Unfair play

KZFR sports show hosts tackle NFL domestic abuse with fundraiser

Jake Sprecher talks about all sports—except NFL football—Monday nights on KZFR 90.1 FM.

Jake Sprecher talks about all sports—except NFL football—Monday nights on KZFR 90.1 FM.

Photo by Ken Smith

Game on:
Say Hey! airs from 5:30 to 6 p.m. on KZFR 90.1 FM. The Screw Greg Hardy crowdfunding campaign can be found at www.generosity.com/fundraisers/screw-greg-hardy-catalyst-chico. Information about Catalyst Domestic Violence Services can be found at catalystdvservices.org.

Every week on KZFR 90.1 FM, Jake Sprecher and Jonathan Newbury do a rapid-fire rundown of the previous week’s sporting events on their Monday night show, Say Hey! On the most recent episode (Nov. 16), a discussion of nominees for the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year Award led to digressions about such wide-ranging competitions as tennis, ultimate fighting and horse racing.

The duo have vowed, however, to not discuss the biggest sport of the season, NFL football. The one exception is Dallas Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy, who is the fuel for a fundraising campaign called Screw Greg Hardy, which the duo launched to benefit local victims of domestic violence.

“I’ve always loved the game, and still do,” Sprecher, a life-long football fan who grew up in a family of San Francisco 49ers season ticket holders, explained during a preshow interview Monday. “But it’s become really hard to balance that love with all of the B.S.”

Sprecher was speaking of the league’s handling of domestic abuse cases involving players, and specifically about a recent debacle surrounding Hardy. In July 2014, Hardy—then playing for the Baltimore Ravens—was convicted of assault and other charges after he brutally attacked his then-girlfriend, throwing her against walls and choking her on a couch covered in assault rifles. He was given a 60-day suspended jail sentence and probation, but the punishments were overturned when the victim didn’t show to an appeal hearing.

While on paid leave from the NFL, Hardy signed a bigger contract with Dallas, and a 10-game suspension this season was reduced to four games after the NFL Players Association lobbied on his behalf. On Nov. 5, the domestic violence charges were expunged from his record, prompting sports news site Deadspin to publish photos of the woman’s injuries and details of the attack.

The Deadspin article reignited controversy over how the NFL deals with players who commit domestic abuse. Arguably the most notable previous case was that of Ray Rice, another former Raven who was caught on surveillance camera knocking his then-girlfriend (now wife) out in an elevator and dragging her through a casino lobby.

Philadelphia radio host Josh Innes started a Screw Greg Hardy crowdfunding campaign on Sportsradio WIP 94.1 FM the day the Deadspin article came out, and in 10 days raised more than $32,000 for the Genesis Women’s Shelter & Support in Dallas.

Sprecher and Newbury had already agreed not to cover the NFL before this year’s season began and, inspired by Innes’ effort, Sprecher decided to launch a similar campaign on Indiegogo to raise $5,000 for Catalyst Domestic Violence Services by Super Bowl Sunday—Feb. 7, 2016. On Tuesday, eight days into the attempt, the effort had raised more than $500. Sprecher, who is also a local musician, said a benefit show will be held at Duffy’s Tavern just before the big game to raise more funds.

“It’s such a cool idea,” said Alyssa Cozine, community educator at Catalyst on Tuesday. “[Domestic abuse in the NFL] has been frustrating to a lot of people for a long time, not just with this incident but because it keeps happening over and over. It’s good to see someone take that anger and turn it into something practical that helps people.”

Cozine said most of Catalyst’s funding comes from state sources, but the organization also depends on donations from the community.

When contacted by email, Innes said he was unaware of the Chico campaign or anyone else doing something similar outside of Philadelphia, but that he supports the effort.

“I think that’s very cool that they are doing that,” he wrote.