On a good day, former New England Patriots and current Washington Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather is a hard-nosed, hard hitting football player.
Those days seem few and far between. More often, Meriweather is a dirty player with a disregard for the safety of his opponents. During his tenure in New England, I watched him make purposeful helmet-to-helmet contact with opponents on several occasions, even after the player’s forward progress had been stopped.
He’s also known for hitting players after the whistle and hitting them out of bound with great frequency.
Meriweather has been fined at least four times over the last four years for hits to the head, with fines totaling more than $100,000, and he has been penalized countless times in games for unnecessary roughness.
Based upon the way he plays the game, it would seem that Brandon Meriweather is not a nice man.
But when Chicago Bear’s receiver Brandon Marshall criticized Meriweather after last week’s game for two penalties and a suspension for leading with his helmet, Meriweather responded with this:
"Listen, everybody’s got their opinion of things, you know. Everybody’s got their opinion. He feels like, you know, I need to be kicked out of the league. I feel like, people who beat their girlfriends should be kicked out of the league too.
"You tell me who you’d rather have: Somebody who plays aggressive on the field, or somebody who beats up their girlfriend. Everybody’s got their opinion. That’s mine. He’s got his."
Meriwether was criticizing Marshall for his role in a domestic abuse case involving his then ex-girlfriend back in 2008. Marshall was eventually found not guilty of the crime and was later arrested but not charged in a separate, similar incident. Even though Marshall is innocent of all charges, I can’t help but admire Meriweather for his comments.
The NFL is full of men who commit the kinds of violent crimes for which Meriweather criticized Marshall, and yet they often remain on the field, earning millions of dollars, and rarely are they criticized by their fellow player.
Check that: They are never criticized by their fellow players.
Unfortunately, in this instance Meriweather chose to criticize someone who has not been convicted of a crime, but two separate arrests for domestic abuse is troubling at best, and a reasonable person might call it a pattern.
In all, 31 NFL players have been arrested since the 2013 Super Bowl, including three for domestic abuse.
All three are currently on NFL rosters.
While I support the idea of innocent until proven guilty (perhaps more than most given my background), I also admire the fact that Meriweather is willing to criticize a fellow player for his off-field behavior.
It simply never happens.
And while it would’ve been better for Meriweather to criticize Marshall at the time of the incident rather than in self-defense, it’s a start.
Meriweather is right. If given the choice, I’d much prefer to watch an aggressive player as opposed to a player with a history of domestic abuse.
Unfortunately, Meriweather is more than simply aggressive. He is often malicious and dangerous. While he is admittedly the lesser of two evils when compared to a man who hits a woman, I’m not sure if either man belongs on the field on Sundays.