The NFL has had to deal with one scandal after another.
From anthem protests to criminal activity, the league has a lot on its plate.
Now one NFL player was accused of a horrific sex crime.
Superstar quarterback Deshaun Watson is still in limbo after being accused of sexual misconduct by dozens of massage therapists.
Watson was steadfast in requesting a trade from the team, but nobody is willing to trade for him because his future status is unknown.
Now the NFL has a much uglier sex scandal on its hands.
Linebacker Barkevious Mingo was recently released by the Atlanta Falcons after being accused of sexual assault against a 13-year-old boy.
Mingo’s lead counsel Chris Lewis said:
“We are extremely disappointed in the Atlanta Falcons’ rush to judgment in terminating Barkevious Mingo’s contract before gathering all of the relevant facts and prior to my client having his day in court.”
From a public relations standpoint, the Falcons wanted to get ahead of the story because the allegations against Mingo are disconcerting.
According to Sports Illustrated, in 2019 Mingo took a family member and that family member’s 13-year-old friend to an amusement park and a go-kart race track.
Mingo then paid for a shopping spree.
Then the story gets much darker.
From Sports Illustrated:
“On the night of July 4, 2019, the boys returned to the local hotel where Mingo was staying. According to the documents obtained by Sports Illustrated, the boy fell asleep, but at approximately 3 a.m. he woke up and noticed Mingo in bed with him. He ‘thought it was odd,’ according to documents, because the plan was for the two boys to sleep in a room separate from Mingo. He thought little of it and went back to sleep.”
This is a deeply disturbing allegation, which is why the Falcons did not want to take a wait-and-see approach.
And the details get more unsettling and graphic:
More from Sports Illustrated:
“According to the document, ‘The victim was then woken by [Mingo] pulling at his underwear. This occurred for a few minutes until the suspect got more and aggressive and pulled the victim’s underwear down to his shins. The victim advised that when this was occurring, he was scared and pretended to be asleep. [Mingo] put a lotion on that made the victim’s skin burn and … rubbed his penis up and down, in between the victim’s butt crack.’”
There is increased sensitivity toward sexual assault, particularly against children, so the NFL doesn’t want to handle this scandal poorly.
Mingo obviously denies the allegations, and he’ll get his day in court.
But from the perspective of the NFL, they have to strike the right balance.
The league was hammered for how it handled the Ray Rice domestic abuse scandal, so they’re worried about being vigilant without giving players the presumption of innocence.
Luckily for the Falcons, Mingo wasn’t a star player, so it made their decision to cut him relatively easy.