Trigger Warning: This article contains graphic details of domestic violence.
Prior to the arrival of Surviving R. Kelly, as the tide began to turn against the embattled singer, Spotify tried to get ahead of the curve by banning controversial artists from its popular playlists. This new “hate content and hateful conduct” policy was the streaming giant’s questionable attempt at having its cake and eating it, too. Because while Spotify refused to openly promote the work of artists like R. Kelly or XXXTentacion due to their alleged misdeeds outside of the recording booth, it sure as hell had no problem continuing to generate revenue from their catalogs.
This decision was met with both applause and outrage. And throughout this entire ordeal, one person’s opinion who I found to be rather fascinating was that of celebrated music exec Steve Stoute, who questioned whether Spotify’s verdict was rooted in convenience or actual policy.
“It’s actually unfortunate that Spotify is now the guy standing in front of all this, when other streaming services have followed suit,” he fumed during an appearance on Hot 97's Ebro in the Morning. “Don’t we always separate the art from the artist? Haven’t we always done that? So, if you’re going to make it a policy, then I have to start going through the list [of other controversial artists]. And now it’s not convenient, because now we gotta be like, ‘How about this: We’re fucking not playing Michael Jackson.’”
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This brings us to Seattle Seahawks tackle Chad Wheeler.
On Wednesday, NFL.com reported that the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office filed three charges against him: first-degree domestic violence assault, domestic violence unlawful imprisonment, and resisting arrest. Each charge is in relation to a horrifying assault that he allegedly unleashed upon his girlfriend this past weekend. Her full name has not been publicly disclosed.
After making his $400,000 bail from the King County Correctional Facility on Tuesday, Wheeler took to social media to offer a tepid mea culpa:
“Events happened over the weekend that transpired from a manic episode. I am deeply sorry for the pain and suffering that I have caused to Alleah and her family. I apologize profusely for the turmoil that I have caused to my family, teammates, fans and those closest to me. The most important thing right now is that Alleah gets the care she needs and I get help. Both are happening. It is time for me to walk away from football and get the help I need to never again pose a threat to another. I cannot express my sorrow or remorse enough. I am truly ashamed.”
Unfortunately for Wheeler, his apology—rightfully so—fell on deaf ears. Because by the time he had mustered up the courage to own up to his demons, the entire world already knew how vile of a fucking coward he actually is.
According to a Kent Police report, the alleged victim was attacked by Wheeler Friday night after he asked her to stand up and bow to him. When she declined, Wheeler allegedly grabbed her by the neck and threw her on the bed, per the report. Wheeler then proceeded to strangle the victim and at one point he removed one of his hands to press it against the victim’s mouth and nose “trying to stop her from breathing as he continued to strangle her with his other hand.”
Wheeler also allegedly grabbed the victim’s left arm at one point and twisted it to prevent her from fighting back. The victim eventually lost consciousness, per the report, and after she came to, Wheeler allegedly said, “Wow you’re alive?” The victim then locked herself in the bathroom to call family and authorities.
Additionally, not only have gruesome pictures of the girlfriend’s alleged assault circulated on the internet but so have text messages that she allegedly sent in its brutal aftermath.
In response to all of this, the Seattle Seahawks waived Wheeler—which, honestly, felt like more of a response to the deafening public outcry than the actual deed itself—and released this statement:
“The Seahawks are saddened by the details emerging against Chad Wheeler and strongly condemn this act of domestic violence arrest. Our thoughts and support are with the victim. Chad is a free agent and no longer with the team. [...] We encourage Chad to get the help he needs.”
But while the NFL has rid itself of a truly deplorable human being, how in the hell can the league take a stance against domestic abusers when it continues to openly employ them?
Sure, Ray Rice never played another down in the NFL again after footage surfaced of him punching his then-fiancée in the face and knocking her unconscious, but there’s a whole-ass video of Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt shoving and kicking a woman in a hotel. And while he was cut from the Chiefs for his transgression, last time I checked, he just helped propel the Browns to one of their best seasons in franchise history.
There’s also Greg Hardy, who continued his career undeterred—he was able to successfully fend off a 10-game suspension—after his own deeply disturbing domestic encounter.
Dallas Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott was slapped with a six-game suspension after the league determined that “he had been physically violent on multiple occasions” with a woman during the summer of 2016. Elliot was somehow able to elude criminal charges even though the woman in question reported the incidents to the police. Despite all of this, a blind eye, and a new contract extension later, he’s currently the second-highest-paid running back in the entire league.
So NFL, what the hell is going here? Why the inconsistency?
Is this a matter of convenience or policy? (And I didn’t even bring up Antonio Brown or Washington Football Team linebacker Rueben Foster.)
Perhaps Steve Stoute was onto something. But here’s the fix: If you are found to have committed any act of violence against a woman or child—physical, sexual, or otherwise—you relinquish your right to play NFL football.
Sorry, Adrian Peterson.
That’s easy, right? There’s no gray area.
But that would require the NFL to have a moral compass, and since when has morality been a lucrative business venture?