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Chris Cook and the Presumption of Innocence

I would like to start this post off with a very important caveat (so important in fact, I will put it in bold!): In no way do I support or approve of domestic violence. It is a heinous crime, often committed against defenseless people, and should be accompanied by onerous sentences and penalties.

In the case of Chris Cook, however, no one, except perhaps for a fly on the wall, can positively affirm that he is guilty of strangulation and domestic violence. The charges may be more serious than those directed at Saints DE Will Smith in November 2010, for allegedly dragging his wife through the street by her hair, or Seahawks LB Leroy Hill in April 2010, whose girlfriend, police reported, “had obvious marks and injuries”,  since the latter were classified as misdemeanors. It should be noted, however, that neither of those players were suspended by their teams for the aforementioned charges. In 2005, strangulation was elevated to a felony in Minnesota, in response to its apparent relationship with domestic homicide (for more see WATCH’s report on the law). This, along with the gruesome details of the accusation have made the situation unacceptable to the large swath of public who is paying attention, and to the Minnesota Vikings, who have suspended Cook for what seems to be an indefinite period.

I respect that the Minnesota Vikings, like any organization, has the right to choose whom it is represented by. I accept that such agreements are voluntary.  Obviously, contracts cannot be broken willy-nilly, but they should not be immune from circumstances that irrevocably alter the conditions behind the agreement. That being said, I do not believe the suspension of Chris Cook to be the right decision. No plea has been entered, and the implication of his post-jail tweet (“…two sides to every story!!”) is that he intends on fighting this thing. I understand that part of the Leslie Frazier project is to build a team with strong character,  leaders like Jared Allen, and warriors like Percy. As far as I know, and to be fair there may be a lot left to be desired there, Cook has been a good teammate.  Sure there was the gun charge in the offseason, but that is not really material when it comes to being a hard working guy who buys into the team concept. Cook looked like a bit of a bust initially, yet thus far he had shown up and looked to be making major strides.  Most importantly, however, is the fact that he is innocent.

Does our society not abhor rumor mongers? Do we not believe in the validity of our justice system? The fact is, if Chris Cook is tarred as a guilty individual, ostracized because of a police report, we have failed as a society. At least allow Cook to enter a plea, allow the courts to do their jobs. It reminds me of the suspension that awaited Michael Vick in his first season with the Eagles. The man had already paid his debts to society, and I am saying this as the adoring owner of an American Pitt Bull Terrier. I understand the NFL’s obsession with image, and in the long run it is likely a very beneficial stance. Yet, I also believe the league and its constituents have set a dangerous precedent when it comes to sentencing men who have not yet been convicted.  My hope is that justice is served. So far, I am not sure that this is the case.


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20 Responses to “Chris Cook and the Presumption of Innocence”

  1. krugjr says:

    well written and good points

  2. bleeding purple says:

    Well first off good points…As Americans were suppose to be innocent until proven guilty…Although I can understand the stance the NFL, is taking to protect its image. On another note if he is guilty, what was done is niether excuseable nor tolerable. But I’d like to know the other side of the story, because he is right there are 2 sides to the story and it does take 2 to fight. On another note, the american judicial system seems automatic to jump all over the guy at a simple allagation from a female lately and thats wrong too. both sides of the story need to be accounted and taken into consideration…From all I have seen It states he did that but his side hasnt been heard and for all we know someone else couldve done it..IDK…but in any case wat was done was wrong

  3. krugjr says:

    good to see TJ is still perfecting the “jump pass”…..here’s what he said after friday’s practice:

    “It’s been making the jump each day so hopefully I get that same jump tomorrow that I’ve been getting. If it makes that jump like I think, I should be fine,” Jackson said.

    get ready, Seattle, SB right around the corner!

    would love to see Ponder take this game on Sunday…GO VIKES!!!!!

  4. krugjr says:

    combine: 40 dash..Newton 4.59, Ponder 4.65 vertical..Newton 35, Ponder 34 wonderlic..Newton 21, Ponder 35

  5. Purple Faithful says:

    You are innocent until proven guilty, but the presumption of innocence doesn’t mean you get to keep a job with an employer who needs to sell tickets to a public that doesn’t want to see him. His job has nothing to do with the criminal justice system.

    • Carter4HOF says:

      Good call that P.O.I and job security are different things. I think the point is, however, that suspending Cook gives credence to the charges since you are in effect punishing a person for being accused. Good point also on the effect of public opinion and the fact that the customer is always right…but does that mean that the public has failed by putting a black mark on somebody who’s only crime, to this point, is to have been accused/charged.

  6. Ole says:

    First of all, if Cook is guilty, battering a women is indefensible. Jail.

    However, here is where the hypocrisy of the NFL blazes bright.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneer, Aqib Talib shot a gun at his sister’s boyfriend and has not suffered any repercussions from the NFL or the Buccaneers. This happened in March 2011, he was indicted for Felony Assault with a Deadly Weapon in May 2011. No suspension, no fine, nada.

    This doesn’t in any way make what Cook allegedly did ok, but could Roger Goodell please explain why shooting at someone is ok, but beating a person is a punishable offense

  7. Gary says:

    Nancy Grace can be thanked for people being guilty before proven innocent…..Has anyone heard from the victom? Who is she? Whats the 2nd side of the story?

  8. Carter4HOF says:

    Of course, Goodell may not be directly responsible for the suspension, but in a certain way I feel as if he has encouraged this kind of culture.

  9. Fragile Freds says:

    Let’s go back to to Kindergarten shall we?

    * Mr. Cook use your words, not your hands
    * If you CHOOSE not to walk away, you will lose your privilages. In this case, your privilage is your employment.
    * Mr. Cook give yourself a “time out” and cool down if you need to.
    * Choose your friends wisely (this goes for love skanks as well). You are who you hang out with.
    * You will be required to be responsible in life. If you choose to put yourself in risky situations, you will be held responsible even if those actions are not against the law and you haven’t been convicted. Welcome to life.

    Your old pal Fragile has no problems with suspending Cook. Agree, let the legal system take it’s course, but Ziggy doesn’t have to wait if he wants to protect the Viking brand. It’s Ziggy’s toy. Show some responsibility Mr. Cook or you will be held in from recess. Too bad dude didn’t learn this lesson.

  10. Gary says:

    Although some can forgive him someday, I will have a hard time, he cost us the game last week, Vikes win if he was playing…..any other team it wouldnt have mattered…..Get rid of him…..

  11. Lost Viking says:

    You make some very valid points. Especially the parts about being mostly innocent.

    Signed,

    Jerome Simpson

  12. Vikadan11 says:

    I believe based on what I have read in the press and saw on ESPN~NFL Network that the Vikings have more than enough evidence to suspend Cook and the cops had more than enough to charge him ~ Enough that Goodell is digging deep into this and could even add more suspend time to what the Vikings have done ~ Enough that the NFLPA isn’t even taking up for him ~

    I would hate to cut him because he has started to play well ~ Hopefully the lose of money and being forced to stay away from the locker room and his team mates will be more than enough to force him to get his head on straight ~

    If any of this is true he could miss the rest of the season by the time Goodell is done with him ~ He is facing some big time charges ~ And if he is guilty I would be fully behind the Vikings cutting him ~

  13. CalVkg says:

    ‘conduct detrimental to the team’ is why the vikes suspended him, not because he is guilty of breaking the law. his behavior got him thrown in jail and he missed a game, which harmed, and was detrimental to, the team

    vikes would get in trouble with the nflpa if they cut him now. the league was consulted on this. there is precedent and case history on this kind of situation

    i don’t know what kind of advice he’s getting, if any, but ya don’t go to court looking like you buy your suits at ‘Gangstas R Us’

    • Vikadan11 says:

      If he hadn’t broke any laws the he wouldn’t have to worry about conduct detrimental to the team ~ They go hand in hand ~

      • CalVkg says:

        vik, technically, he’s not guilty yet, even though it looks like he is, so the vikes can’t do much else at this point

  14. commander says:

    pUT wEBB AT DEF BACK AND SAVE A DRAFT PICK

  15. Ghetto Defendant says:

    They suspended him. Something very serious happened. Suspended while it plays itself out is the right thing to do. We needed that stupid ass.

  16. Dynalee10 says:

    Was there anyone else in the room? Did she do it to herself? If no then there is little doubt of guilt. If yes then Cook has a leg to stand on. It doesn’t look to good that he had a prior last winter that he somehow got out of .

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