McPherson offers another reason the NFL shies away from the issue of domestic violence. "When you say you're fighting breast cancer, it's cancer that is the problem. When you're combating domestic violence, often men are the perpetrators; men are the problem. And the NFL can't do anything in a small way. So if they went big with domestic violence, they would find themselves at the forefront of the national conversation on the issue. It would scrutinize their fans, the language of their game, and they would have to be called to task for the sexism and misogyny that fuels the game."
The bottom line is that the NFL will likely only go all-in against domestic violence if it becomes something that fans demand; if, for example, on the first Sunday of the season at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, the place was empty. (It won't be, of course.) "Things will change when fans say, 'You're expecting me to come to the game to watch Ray Rice play? That guy?' What are you asking me to do -- as a fan?" McPherson said. "At some point, if the fans get to that point, that's when things will change."
Part of this, too, might be a chicken-and-the-egg problem. If the NFL took a front-facing, very public stand against domestic violence, might that make the waters less muddied? Might it help frame the issue in a more clear-cut way?
Because for Davis and many others, the issue is not at all cloudy.
"There needs to be severe and dire consequences to curb these types of actions in the future," Davis said.
The fact that the NFL still sees this issue as controversial only fuels the belief that it is. And as long as the league continues to only pay it lip service -- working only behind closed doors, handing down soft sentences for offenders -- domestic violence will continue to seem like a tricky social issue.
When in reality, it's pretty simple.