By Julie Buehler

I love the NFL and everything about football.

I hate the fact domestic violence is so prevalent and our society frequently turns a blind black eye.

Those two statements are not mutually exclusive.

I feel like I write about domestic violence in sports a lot, but that’s not because it is a problem in sports. This is a problem in our society and it generally only gets heavily scrutinized and rightly analyzed when million-dollar athletes are either let off easy or taken off the field of play.

We all know our hero-seeking culture has been overlooking transgressions and trivializing mistakes or ignoring them all together. And this MUST stop.

But it is NOT the job of the NFL or NBA or MLB or NHL or any other sports league to ensure their athletes are properly punished for domestic violence.

That’s the job of our lawmakers. The people we elect for the purpose of protecting our communities and punishing those found guilty of crimes.

Hey, I hear ya. It’s outrageous that Greg Hardy got a mere 4-game suspension for allegedly heaving his girlfriend onto a hard, tiled-tub, then launching her onto a bed where he allegedly choked her, then throwing her onto a couch full of guns and threatening her life.

4 games?? Chargers tight end Antonio Gates got a 4-game suspension for having some banned substances in his body he claims were accidentally put there. Tom Brady was suspended 4-games for being “generally aware” that some ball handlers were making his footballs a little soft and Hardy got 4 games for tossing a woman around like a gym bag???

A 4-game suspension is outrageous, but not because of the oft-presented contrasts I just offered, it feels hollow because Hardy should be behind bars.

It is completely outrageous that we have to rely on the NFL’s woefully inadequate “justice system” to be the only source of punishment the man sees.

Your outrage is justified, but it shouldn’t be pointed at the NFL, it should be directed at lawmakers.

While the NFL was vilified and Roger Goodell publicly ridiculed for the mishandling of the Ray Rice incident, do you remember the FACT that Atlantic City police had that video within the elevator from Day 1. Yet the local laws allowed Rice to take a plea deal and avoid any jail time.

The NFL took its cue from the local law enforcement and learned expensive but invaluable lessons.
Did that local law enforcement? Any laws changed??

Well, a bill was written by a state Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera. She and the rest of the bill’s sponsors are still waiting to see if it’s passed into law. It required “more thought” be given to the pre-trial intervention, i.e., lack of jail time, that Rice got. Sounds harsh (hope you’re picking up on my sarcasm there).

Oh, and they’ve also, as recently as February 2015 decided a committee will examine the state’s handling of domestic violence. A committee!

The committee will serve as a forum for stakeholders to conduct an in-depth review of our current domestic violence laws and policies, including the interaction of the Municipal and Superior Courts in domestic-violence matters…” Said the statement released by New Jersey Chief Justice Stuart Rabner.

A committee. Awesome. Sounds impressive. Will it produce actual change, we’ll see.

The outrage is justified and what we want is substantial change.

What we don’t want is men tried in the court of public opinion or by their employers because the court of law is so lax that criminals are not only walking among us, but also playing our most honored sports and enjoying the rich spoils of adulation because of those faulty laws. That’s a grave disservice to our justice system and any individual who is innocent but presumed guilty in the public eye.

The idea that the NFL should be punishing Greg Hardy above and beyond the law is frankly, ridiculous.

We should never be at a point in society that the outcry for justice is so underserved in the court of law and so strong in the private sector that the only recourse for justice be the arbitrary and insufficient practices of employers.

Aren’t our elected officials hired to ensure our safety and security? Yet we are to believe that the men and women entrusted to run businesses, such as the NFL, will have our societal needs and expectations at the forefront of the P&L’s they must deliver to stock holders? I’m not betting on that. And neither should you.

The outrage must be strong and united and resolute to see the domestic violence problem in our nation eradicated and those offending parties punished to the full extent of the law, but first, the laws have to be extended.

The NFL and other sports leagues leveling stiffer penalties is important, but those should come AFTER the 200+ year-old criminal justice system has the proper chance to vet out innocence or guilt.