THE BLOG
09/15/2014 01:38 am ET Updated Nov 14, 2014

Domestic Violence in America, 2014: NBC's Cris Collinsworth Says You Should Play Until You're Indicted

NBC color analyst Cris Collinsworth believes in a low bar of integrity on domestic violence. Sunday night he explained that bar during the San Francisco-Chicago game.

He emphasized that San Francisco defensive end Ray McDonald was not yet indicted on felony domestic violence charges against his fiancée, who was 10 weeks' pregnant at the time of his arrest for an incident in late August. He said that unless McDonald is indicted, he should stay on the field. Play-by-play man Al Michaels offered no counter to Collinsworth's moral standard, which appears to be: indict, and *maybe* we'll bench the guy. Until then, no dice.

That's pathetic, and it's bullshit (or "batshit" as we say in Austin, Texas -- we have a lot of bats and bat guano).

The so-called "presumption of innocence" isn't what's in play here. An arrest is in play here. A horrific accusation is in play here. The NFL's standard of conduct and behavior is in play here. You should "paid leave" the guy pending the outcome of the investigation surrounding his arrest. If he's indicted, he stays on paid leave pending the outcome of the indictment. Pretty simple. It should apply to either gender in any job, and it does, often.

In most police departments, if a cop is involved in an on-the-job incident with a citizen involving a serious physical encounter or deadly force, they go on desk duty pending the outcome of the investigation. If the cop is involved in their own domestic violence arrest, they damn sure go on desk duty pending the outcome. Is there a difference in the jobs? Yes, cops can arrest citizens, and NFL players can't.

This is a difference, true. But so what? Is the NFL's position that they don't have to set their bar of integrity as high as cops? Really? Why the hell not? (And what cops are we talking about? The cops in Ferguson, Missouri? The L.A. cops Rodney King encountered in 1991?)

The NFL claims to be "second to none" in the integrity department, and the patriotic department. They sell it, hard. TV networks pay billions to carry the NFL product, and make three-fold in advertising sales. Americans are even addicted to the meaningless preseason games. Collinsworth was a receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals in the '80s. The NFL still butters his bread, even if NBC writes the check. Nobody is a "disinterested third party" in this passion play.

Employees of Fortune 500 companies are more and more frequently placed on paid leave pending the outcome when things like this come down and become public. A TV or movie star can get fired from their job. An NFL player is equally high profile, and they have an employer, the NFL. The entire society watches it, from our great grandchildren to our great grandparents. These athletes occupy a vastly overpaid and over-exalted place within our culture. They and their employer have every reason to be above reproach. This should be their bar of integrity.

The policy of "He stays until he's indicted" -- the Cris Collinsworth policy -- is a policy that basically says, "Oh, yeah? Then prove it." That's classless. It sends the wrong signal in a world already too uncouth, too misogynistic, too sexist. You paid leave the guy pending the outcome, period.

Anything less is turning the other cheek to horrific behavior, and any decent person knows it. Or should.

CORRECTION: Collinsworth's first name was originally spelled incorrectly. There is no "h" in Cris.