Cleveland Browns running back Isaiah Crowell, 23, is under fire for a grotesque image posted on Instagram showing a man dressed in all black slitting the throat of a police officer. It is a disgusting image that few of us would have even contemplated showing to another person, let alone posting on social media. Yet, Crowell posted the image with a statement “Mood: They give polices all types of weapons and they continuously choose to kill us…(hashtag)Weak” After an immediate outcry, Crowell removed the image and insisted issued a long statement that sounded like it was the product of a room of panicked NFL and Browns lawyers. The question is now the response of the NFL to the posting. Update: Notably, the first black Miss Alabama was suspended on Tuesday for calling Micah Johnson a “martyr” for killing the five police officers.
Warning the image below is graphic and disturbing.
In fairness to Crowell, this picture has gone viral and was not his creation. However, he saw it and liked it enough to post it.
Here is the posting:
Crowell posted the image after Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, and Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana were fatally shot by police. It was before five police officers were killed in Dallas. However, none of that is an excuse for the posting of this type of horrific, hateful image. Nevertheless, a statement was issued for Crowell that was markedly different in tone and message:
“Last week was an emotional and difficult week as we saw extreme acts of violence against black men across our country as well as against police officers in Dallas. I posted an image to Instagram in the midst of that emotion that I shouldn’t have and immediately removed it. It was an extremely poor decision and I apologize for that mistake and for offending people. My values and beliefs do not match that image.
I am outraged and upset by the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile along with so many others. I am also outraged and saddened by the attacks in Dallas and the deaths of the five 5 honorable police officers (Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael J. Smith, Brent Thompson, and Patrick Zamarripa) who were providing protection while trying to keep peace. We have to be better as a society, it’s not about color, it’s about what’s right and wrong. I was very wrong in posting that image. Every single life matters, every death as a result of violence should be treated with equal outrage and penalty.”
Forgive me if I am not satisfied by that spin. There are no circumstances where the use of an ISIS-like image of killing police would be understandable or justified. Yet, there was a notable lapse in a response from the NFL or the Browns. Pray tell, if the posting showed the beating of woman or killing of a minority, would there be such an initial ambivalent response?
Crowell has a first amendment right to make a complete ass out of himself. However, the team and the NFL have contractual rights to separate themselves from an athlete who feels the necessity of posting images of the slitting of the throats of police officers. When crowds or fans threaten Crowell, he appears to have little thought of the line of officers protecting him. Instead, he wants his large following on social media to see an image of a helpless police officer having his throat slit.
It is certainly true that the third-year running back led the Browns in rushing last season with 706 yards. However, for many of us, this posting says more about the man than each of those yards. After Johnny Manziel, the Browns appear to have a knack for selecting players with a wealth of talent and a paucity of maturity. That is not unique of course but the NFL should remember that that thin blue line around their stadiums and free golf tournaments are wearing the same uniform as the man bleeding out in Crowell’s posting. It is the same uniform worn by Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael J. Smith, Brent Thompson, and Patrick Zamarripa.
Assuming that the NFL or the Browns eventually act, what do you think should be the punishment? Does this warrant the loss of a contract or suspension in your view?