Ex-NFL player defends family tradition of child beatings with bullwhips and broomsticks
A former professional football player on Sunday defended the idea of corporal punishment for children, recalling that he was beaten with a bullwhip, broomstick, extension cord and even left in a hot car as a child.
Shannon Sharpe, who played for the Baltimore Ravens before Ray Rice was drafted, said that it was not reasonable to expect the NFL to take on violence against children and women.
“I think that’s asking a bit much because that’s not what the NFL was constructed to do,” he told host Candy Crowley. “The 32 owners elected [Commissioner] Roger Goodell to make them as much money as he possibly could. Now in the process, sometimes through great adversity, great change can happen.”
“Now, I hope that since this has become such a hot button issue, we can help society,” he continued. “Bridge the gap, and help guys understand, you can’t do what you’ve been doing to women, you can’t batter children. And the old way of thinking, as far as disciplining your child, ‘Well, this is the way I was disciplined,’ we know that’s not acceptable now.”
Sharpe noted that he was “left in a hot car for hours” as a child, “but we know we can’t do that now.”
Crowley pointed out that child abuse claims had been leveled against Sharpe before and after he left the game.
The former player argued that eight of the 10 complaints against him did not involve physical violence. There was one complaint that he had spanked his child without cause. Another complaint alleged that he forced a woman to have sex, and threatened her life. Both complaints were later dropped.
In the case of the child abuse complaint, he said that he gave his son a spanking because the boy was told to leave an item at home, but did not.
“I get it, there’s a very, very fine line between child abuse and discipline,” he explained. “And what’s acceptable when I grew up, and what you did determined how you got disciplined and what you got disciplined with, whether it was a hose pipe, or bullwhip or a belt or a broomstick or extension cord. Switches were the least of your problems. But if you did something that my grandparents thought you deserved the harshest punishment, that’s what you got.”
“I wouldn’t change my background, but I understood as I had kids that there was no possible way I could raise them how I was raised.”
Sharpe later told other members of the panel that they may be able to punish with their children without violence, but he could not.
“What works for them, maybe you can sit them down, maybe you can put them in timeout, maybe you can take away their favorite toy,” he said. “That might not work for my kids. So for them to say, this is the only way you can discipline, by giving time out or by taking away their favorite toy, that’s not right.”
Watch the video below from CNN’s State of the Union, broadcast Sept. 21, 2014.