N.F.L. Was Family, Until Wives Reported Domestic Abuse

N.F.L. Was Family, Until Wives Reported Domestic Abuse

This is a 2012 photo of Robert Sands of the Cincinnati Bengals NFL football team. This image reflects the Cincinnati Bengals active roster as of Wednesday, June 13, 2012 when this image was taken. (AP Photo)
This is a 2012 photo of Robert Sands of the Cincinnati Bengals NFL football team. This image reflects the Cincinnati Bengals active roster as of Wednesday, June 13, 2012 when this image was taken. (AP Photo)

CINCINNATI (New York Times) — Mercedes Sands and her husband, Robert, a safety for the Cincinnati Bengals, started fighting early, just a few months after they were married. But when Ms. Sands drove her car into a neighbor’s house while trying to flee, knocking herself unconscious and prompting a visit from the police, the Bengals became alarmed.

Within days of the episode, in January 2012, the team’s head coach, Marvin Lewis, called a meeting at Paul Brown Stadium to try to help the couple work through their problems.

He offered encouragement, Ms. Sands said in an interview, telling them that young couples often fought and that they should seek counseling. He also advised them to reach out to the Bengals first if there were further problems because a call to the police could attract attention from the news media and cause an embarrassing distraction.

“They made it seem like we are a family,” Ms. Sands recalled. “ ‘Anything you need, you come to us. We are here to help you.’ ”

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