Jeff Gladney and The Wheels of Justice

Feb 28, 2020; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Texas Christian defensive back Jeff Gladney (DB10) speaks to the media during the 2020 NFL Combine in the Indianapolis Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The top of the week yielded gruesome news regarding a 22-year-old woman in Texas, Jeff Gladney, and the Minnesota Vikings. Gladney, 24, turned himself into a Dallas County Jail, surrendering on a warrant for felony family assault charges.

The woman was reportedly in a relationship with the Vikings cornerback although additional details are limited. The only widespread visual material that is readily available pertaining to the situation is the mugshot in the Miles tweet above.

The violent happenings are filings with the police department – implying that someone perpetrated the attack on the woman. And, in all likelihood, that someone is probably Gladney. Misunderstandings and hoaxes indeed exist, but this turn of events is not trending to be a part of that club.

The Vikings commented on the matter in a statement:

“We are aware of Jeff’s arrest and are gathering additional information. We take this matter very seriously, as the reported allegations are extremely disturbing.”

Aside from the court of digital/public opinion, that’s about all that is available for now.

As Described, a Heinous Crime

The events described by Miles – the punching, choking, and dragging – are vile. In 2014, Ray Rice, formerly of the Baltimore Ravens, was involved in a similar incident that was recorded on surveillance video. Rice punched a woman in an Atlantic City elevator and dragged her out in a haunting scene.

Rice never played professional football again – a path that may be fatefully forged for Gladney.

Pictures will probably soon follow, and those bits of evidence will confirm Miles’ reporting. That’s typically the schedule of events in nightmarish matters akin to this. Video has not surfaced, but that would also be a vehicle of truth – as seen with Kareem Hunt and his assault on a woman in 2018. Hunt was suspended for eight games.

It is unlikely that the tragedy beset on the unnamed woman was fictionalized, and the apprehension of Gladney seems to be the first step toward justice.

Due Process Nevertheless

Just as folks are predisposed to adjudicate Gladney in the court of public opinion per First Amendment protection – the Vikings cornerback is entitled to due process. To be sure, all signs outwardly point to him as the culprit, but Gladney will receive his proverbial day in court. A rush to judgment is often too irresistible for onlookers – particularly when the news story is covered by dozens of media outlets.

Yet, no matter the act, every human in the United States is given a Constitutional platform to offer a defense of actions. Gladney’s is upcoming. The legal forecast is not optimistic for his sake. Why? Because history serves as a reasonable indicator that there is usually smoke with a fire.

The evaluation of his comeuppance is underway – and, yes, that includes the determination of his guilt. People, regardless of stature, cannot be identified as guilty solely based on mugshots or tweets – even when they turn themselves over to authorities.

It’s a delicate issue to wrestle as women must be heard and believed. In the end, justice will be litigated – but not on the first day of breaking news. Americans used to believe that’s what separates their commitment to the law in contrast to other unsavory nations – due process.

But social media makes that difficult.

An Inevitable Endgame?

Barring total fabrication by someone, Gladney’s fleeting career with the Vikings – and as a professional athlete – has likely concluded. The preliminary details do not leave much to the imagination, and precedent generally mandates that the offender is banned or suspended from his job – in this case pro football. Again – that fragile line of “oh, come on – he did it” versus due process is in play.

More is forthcoming. Under this brand of Wilf ownership for the Vikings, the organization has zero-tolerance for violent crime. Adrian Peterson was suspended by the NFL for nearly a season amid child abuse allegations while the Vikings seemingly concurred with the punishment.

Peterson – also in Texas at the time — was given probation and performed community service.

This one is different. Not because hitting a child with a twig as a form of discipline is justifiable. Peterson claimed the use of a “switch” was the way his family handled discipline for generations.

What happened to the woman in Texas was blunt-force violence – unrelated to child-raising rationalizations. Per reporting, it was a showcase of brutality.

Justice will be rendered per the legal system, not Twitter accounts. And those familiar with the Vikings should prepare for a Gladney-less football team.

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