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TRIGGER WARNING: This article contains graphic details of domestic violence that may trigger survivors of abuse.
If you haven’t heard of the name Chad Wheeler yet, don’t be alarmed. The most significant sports broadcaster in the world has moved on from this story faster than hedge funds going bankrupt thanks to Reddit.
As a matter of fact, if you go to ESPN’s homepage, you won’t even find the story on there. You have to use their search option, type in his name, and you’ll get a total of TWO articles discussing what took place.
I want to remind you of the treatment of Ray Rice and Kareem Hunt (both black) by the media back in 2014 and 2018, respectively, when they were both accused of violence against women. Every sportswriter had written a piece on them, and it was the leading segment on every show for the next week. I understand Rice and Hunt’s notoriety is different compared to Wheeler, someone who nobody ever heard of until recently; however, that is still no excuse to overlook this story the way it has been.
Wheeler beat his then-girlfriend, Alleah Taylor, to the point where he was shocked she was still alive after losing consciousness multiple times.
“I had touched my face, and I looked down and there was — there’s blood on my hand,” Taylor explained during an interview with CBS. “And I remember getting up and running to the bathroom. Chad was standing by the bed, by the doorway, and he was sipping his smoothie. And he was, like, ‘Wow, you’re — you’re still alive.’”
Taylor ran to the bathroom and called 911 and was later taken to the hospital and treated for a fractured humerus and dislocated elbow, sore throat, difficulty swallowing, headache, and neck pain–all signs of strangulation. To put it in perspective, he’s a 6-foot-7, 310-pound lineman that was tased “with little effect” by police officers, so you can only imagine the terror going through the victim’s mind during the attack.
It’s worth noting that Taylor is a young black woman, which adds an extra layer to the story we must not ignore. If Wheeler’s race was reversed, history has proven, this would be a national story that lasted more than a few hours. If Wheeler was a black NFL player and his girlfriend was a white woman, there would be those asking for the death penalty. Repeatedly black women are unprotected, remaining the group least likely to receive justice in the U.S.
Usually, when an incident like this occurs and the assailant is black and male, it remains a front-page story for a while. Discussed is the violent nature of the sport and if enough emphasis is being placed on players’ mental health. At the same time, the player will get cut by his current team, a few months will pass or at most a season, and then another team will give that player another chance with a multi-million dollar contract. But this week, there has barely been a peep about any of that, and it’s not like there is anything else major happening in the sports world that has everyone else’s attention.
And that is where we as a society must protect our women, most notably our black women. These stories can’t go overlooked, especially when the abuser is released on bail 48 hours after the assault!
Wheeler released from the Seattle Seahawks.