Wives in Domestic Abuse Cases Say N.F.L. Culture Made Them Feel Trapped
The former wives of two players said they felt isolated and powerless when they were urged to stay quiet about violence and avoid causing disruptions.
The two women who left their husbands — Mercedes Sands, who was married to the Cincinnati Bengals player Robert Sands, and Brandie Underwood, who was married to the Green Bay
Packers player Brandon Underwood — described abusive relationships in which they felt trapped, in part because of each team’s close-knit culture and a protocol that emphasized avoiding disruptions.
It was better to endure indignities like infidelity, other wives told them, or to keep quiet even if the hostility in their marriages seemed unbearable, than to cause a ruckus that could upend the success and harmony of the team.