In the Line of Fire

The second I saw the breaking news, I knew it was coming. A controversial decision by the NFL to suspend a player just two games over his domestic violence arrest…the very definition of combustible in my business. Throw in a female radio host voicing a strong opinion, and it’s akin to lighting a stick of dynamite near a fuel tank. Explosive. It happens every time I tackle a social issue on my shows. As much as I try to foster intelligent conversation, there is always nasty backlash. I call it being in the line of fire because that’s exactly how it feels…as though I’m standing in front of a firing squad full of marksmen taking their best shots. It comes with the job, but I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to the venom from listeners and followers on social media.

In my opinion, a two-game suspension for knocking your fiancee’ out cold isn’t enough. The NFL preaches zero-tolerance for violence against women, but this minor punishment of Ray Rice proclaims the exact opposite. The Commissioner took into account Rice’s clean past; the courts allowing counseling in lieu of a trial; the couple’s public apology and sit-down with Roger Goodell himself; and the running back’s positive contributions in the Baltimore community. I realize one moment or one poor decision, even a criminal one, doesn’t define a person, but there are consequences for every action. The NFL had a perfect opportunity to make a strong statement about domestic violence but chose to do otherwise. The two-game penalty (and roughly $500,000 in lost wages) is weak and inconsistent when compared with other punishments handed down in recent years. The NFL is the gold standard in pro sports, the envy of every other sports organization in the US. With revenue of roughly $9 billion annually, the league captures the attention of millions of fans year-round. And with all those people watching, Goodell missed the chance to score a huge win in the fight against domestic violence.

In addition to sharing those sentiments to start my radio show, I also said men shouldn’t hit women. Unless a man fears for his life or the lives of others, he should never hit a woman. Men are physically stronger and more powerful than women, even those who don’t play football for a living. Ray Rice takes hits from defensive ends and linebackers twice his size; he withstands dozens of tackles per game from defenders who get a running start. He’s thrived in a violent, collision sport. His life wasn’t in danger when his fiancee’ came at him in that elevator. He didn’t need to fight back. He could’ve bear-hugged her, held her arms to her sides, or done nothing at all until the elevator doors opened. Instead, he clocked her. According to reports, he hit her hard enough that she smacked her head and fell to the floor unconscious. A very public video shows him dragging her body out of the elevator. He could’ve killed her. It would’ve been unintentional, but she could’ve died.

I barely got the words out of my mouth before the reaction started flooding in. The phone lines, my Facebook page, and my twitter feed blew up. Everything from outrage over the suspension to mockery of the NFL’s policies to questions for Goodell to justifications for Ray Rice to personal stories of abuse. But by far, the most vicious reaction was directed at me personally. I was called bitch, gold-digger, hack, idiot, dumb broad, delusional, ugly, clueless, and the worst host on CBS Sports Radio among other things. One listener said he wished Ray Rice would knock ME out so I would go away. In the age where cowards turn twitter into their weapon of choice, I was sexually harassed and called names I would never speak or print. In my 10 years of network radio, that was the worst it’s ever been.

Personal attacks come with the territory. A vocal cross-section of sports fans still don’t want to hear women venture into a “man’s world” or talk about a man’s game. Some are intimidated by a strong female who knows more about sports than they do. Those critics motivate me and push me to get better at what I do. Those social media trolls are easy to forget. But it was more difficult to move past Thursday’s show. I had a hard time sleeping. I couldn’t stop thinking about the co-worker who suggested I brought the verbal abuse on myself, that I “asked for it” by starting my show with such strong views. I wish I could say the venom stopped after that initial show, but it continued over the next three shows and three days.

I’m so thankful for the loyal listeners and supporters who were just as vocal: applauding me for taking a stand and daring to voice my opinions, for promoting intelligent dialogue and debate, for pulling on my body armor and refusing to back down, for responding with grace and humor instead of stooping to the juvenile tactics of the “haters.” As rough as it was, I’m also thankful for a platform that puts me in the line of fire. Domestic violence is a massive problem in our society, affecting millions of families across the country. One man called my show to say his mother hit him every day from ages 4 to 14 and that he finally left home after hitting her back one time and realizing he could hurt her. That phone call broke my heart. He wasn’t the only listener to share a personal story of abuse. And for those victims, I would go through another hundred shows like Thursday if it means I can make a small difference.

 

17 Responses to “In the Line of Fire”

  1. Marv Bittinger Says:

    You have my abiding support for the stance you have taken. I admire your courage and am saddened by people’s response.

  2. Ken Freeman Says:

    I listened to most all of your shows last week. It NEVER entered my mind that you responded to this social problem in anything but a constructive manner. How could anyone with half a brain think differently? You “stick to your guns ” so to speak. I’m a Rutgers alumnus & am still waiting for an official school reply eventhough he’s been out of school quite awhile. Since Rutgers just was accepted into the BIG TEN, it would be nice for the school to publicly condemn the action. I will give it a bit more time before I write to the Alumni Association.
    I remain a loyal listener.
    Ken Freeman. Brunswick, Ga.

  3. I have been a LOYAL fan since my third shift nights when you were on the other network. I admire you, wish I knew half the things about sports you do, and love when you host on CBS Sports Radio. Haters will always hate, they have failed in life and hate anyone who succeeds. I hope to meet you some day. I will always be an Amy supporter.

  4. I too that I am in agreement with your blog and anti-violence statements on your show. In MN this issue has taken a little bit different twist with many men complaining about the three game suspension Viking coach Mike Priefer received from the Vikings for his violent homophobic remarks, whereas Ray Rice only got two games for the violence against his fiancee. My response is that both got off way too easily and that there actually is a profound connection between violence against women and well as GLBT individuals. Thanks again, Amy for standing up to violence!

  5. Listened to your show and the interview on the 93.7 Fan and it is seems to me that some men are not ready for a strong woman with opinions.

  6. I just wrote an awesome response to your blog….but the darn thing got lost somewhere in the process of filling my email, etc.

    Needless to say Amy, I applaud you for standing up in a public way to shed light on domestic violence and the role celebrity NFL figures play, players and management alike, in condoning machismo behavior against women. On the field, aggressive, even violent, behavior has its place. But off the field, some players forget the rules of civilized society, or think they are above it…and when they do, with only a slap on the wrist from the NFL, that behavior is condoned in a public way which sets an awful example for young boys to emulate.
    Makes me wish for the days of baseball as our national sport, with players whose job was to not only play good ball, but have a public life that was worth emulating.

  7. David Gandall Says:

    Amy Micah 6:8 God has got your back! Admire your courage!

  8. Mark Moreland Says:

    Amy I was listening as usual to your show when that caller called in and said his Mother hit him all the time and he had struck her so he left. Anyways, I’m really really sorry that callers, tweeters and online assassin’s have attacked you either verbally or in text, text messages or print! There totally wrong for that and you being a woman shouldn’t and to me doesn’t have anything to do with what you said and how you feel! People, it’s called Amy’s opinions, thoughts and feelings about what Ray Rice did and Domestic Violence. So, to the people who attacked Amy for her beliefs, you all should be ashamed of yourselves and ask yourselves if you’d want to be treated like that and if you want people to respect the way you feel. Also, most of the ones who said so many disparaging things to and about Amy really don’t know anything about her, listen to her show very much and realize just how great she is at what she does. Amy is totally fair with her listeners and respects what we say and tweet to her. I for one want to apologize to you Amy for all the people who were so hateful and nasty towards you! I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t always agree with what Amy says, but I also don’t agree with what other radio personalities say either. Amy does a great show all the time and is way more knowledgeable about sports than I am and I watch just about every sport there is and oh yeah, by the way, I’m a guy!! I just want to say again Amy that I’m very sorry that you were attacked the way you were for voicing the way you feel about the Ray Rice incident! Keep up the GREAT work that you do here on CBS radio! This blog was awesome!

  9. You are now and always will be a strong and awesome woman and person. You have the strongest morale compass of anyone I know Amy. You take a lot of heat for being a woman in a man’s world, but you are nothing short of class. Rock on my friend. Rock on.

  10. Stay strong and keep up what you are doing. Goodness will triumph over evil every time .As for your co-worker who suggested you brought this on yourself he or she should be ashamed. It is easy to take the easy way out but it’s takes a strong person to speak up and stand by there opinion especially when it comes to right and wrong as you have done . Best to you as always .

  11. Dave Diamond Says:

    I’m sad, angry, disgusted to hear you’re being attacked for standing up against violence. You are a courageous voice for all people and a wonderful role model.

  12. Noel Moes Says:

    Yeah, I agree – Ray Rice shouldv’e been disciplined more harshly.

  13. Geo Steedle Says:

    Amy, I love you girl! Keep fighting the good fight. You have more support than you know.

  14. I am ashamed for my gender when I hear of behavior like Ray Rice’s attack on his wife, as well as when I hear about off-base and nasty comments made to men or women who oppose two-game suspensions (less than a slap on the wrist, and irresponsible behavior on the part of the NFL).

    Keep calm, carry on, and leave the Neanderthal a**hat comments behind of those who make nasty comments abut righteous and just criticism of the Neanderthal Football League or its players when either fails to act responsibly. The commenter who cited Micah 6:8 (“…do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God..”( was right on: those who criticize you and call themselves “Christians” are so far off that the mind boggles…

  15. Amy, you deserve all of the above compliments and support and then some. Your resolve reminds me of Hebrews 12:1-2: “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Stay focused on your calling, don’t be distracted by the riff-raff.

  16. Amy, you are one of the best.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 93 other followers

%d bloggers like this: