Expect Roger Goodell has a tough task ahead of him regarding the recent surge in player arrests Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon SMI
By Travis Duncan
Update: The Packers very own, T.J. Lang, has provided some thoughtful commentary regarding the recent string of NFL arrests-in particular DUI's. Lang tweeted this with a photo of a taxi cab.
"Dear co-workers.. These are pretty cheap.. Try one out pic.twitter.com/7eMdNVD7"
Update: Since the time this article was posted, it has been reported that Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch was arrested on suspicion of DUI on Saturday.
Last week, Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil was the 26th player NFL player arrested since the Super Bowl.
At the time many said they don't remember another offseason where so many NFL players have been arrested.
Then Monday night the Dallas Morning News reported that Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant was arrested on domestic violence charges.
Of course all parties involved in these incidents, are innocent until proven guilty by a court of law let us not forgot.
It's important to also note that most NFL players are not criminals and are not breaking the law. Realistically, there are 1600 NFL players and the hundreds more, who are between teams or have an off-season roster spot and only about 30 have been arrested this summer. But the actions of a few hurt the perception of the many.
And yes, we will all still tune in this fall by the millions, this probably won't hurt the sport's popularity in terms of TV ratings.
No one is worried about the NFL losing fans over player arrests, it's too popular and it won't happen.
However, one of the most startling facts is that the charges against many players who have been arrested are either for physically aggressive or violent crimes.
The rest of the blotter is filled with DUIs and marijuana possession charges.(Regarding the DUI arrests Roger Goodell sent a memo to teams in June)
Regarding violent crimes, a glimpse into recent entries on the NFL arrests database, kept by the San Diego Union Tribune, isn't pretty.
3/30/2012 Miami linebacker Koa Misi
"Arrested by fugitive squad on warrant related to battery charge in California. Authorities say Misi punched man in eye.
4/28/2012 Vikings running back Caleb King (released after arrest) Arrested in relation to assault that fractured a man's skull. Fight allegedly started after victim said King looked like comedian Eddie Murphy.
Commissioner Goodell and the NFL would do anything to find a way to prevent these headlines from happening.But he and the league can't, not so far.What is in place now is not working.No Easy AnswersWe can't pretend that you or I have the answer. Goodell and the NFL have the financial resources to hire any number of assortment of the world's best and well-informed psychologists, sociologists, criminologists to figure out just how to prevent the off the field issues.
One tangible program the NFL has set up is the rookie symposium where guys like Adam "Pacman" Jones talk about what not to do. People are still talking about how powerful Jones speech was at this year's symposium. It's hard to measure the impact such programs as the rookie symposium has and is having, so let's not underestimate that.
But even though Mr. Goodell has a fine reputation as a "the buck stops here" first-of-his-kind discipline enforcer/pro sports commissioner, the suspensions and fines aren't preventing these events from occurring. Goodell could just as easily impose longer suspensions and higher fines and pay cuts, but that won't solve real problem.
Teams can even release the player, which usually happens if they become a liability more than a commodity and didn't have a firm hold on a roster spot to begin with. But the Broncos aren't releasing Dumervil. You get the idea.
Is there a link between playing a violent sport and the lack of self-control and misbehavior that results in arrests?
That is always up for a debate because you'll never be able to prove the correlation but one can draw their own conclusions.
Why it's important
Dummervil's arrest was linked to road rage. Which in a way brings us the NFL's other big issue, which is, the violence that occurs on the field, as exemplified in the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal. Violence which can result in life long injury, and the effects of concussions many years down the road, which some argue has led to the suicides of former players.
Realistically this is a life and death issue.
Others might make a sociological connection, that roughly 70-percent of the NFL are African American males and good portion of which are under the age of 30 and the same issues we see in society for that demographic is happening in the NFL. And it may be beyond the scope of the NFL to address the root causes.
While the NFL grapples with these big issues, it's really hard for a fan or anyone to have sympathy for an athlete who gets arrested.
Rarely if ever has an athlete gained sympathy, whether they are in the right or wrong when their name appears on the police blotter and in the subsequent headlines.
Fans have no tolerance for that.
And they shouldn't.
Adrian Peterson for example, the previously beloved running back and star of the Minnesota Vikings, states that he is 200-percent innocent of a resisting arrest charge that is pending a court date in Houston, TX . But his reputation will never be the same. It just won't. It may improve, but it won't be the same.
"I didn't push, shove, touch anything to anyone that night, especially an officer," said Peterson, according to the Associated Press.
"I definitely don't have a problem with the Houston PD. This involves two individual officers that I have an issue with. Once everything is settled and (comes) to a head, the truth will come out."
The truth is even having your name mentioned in the same headline as an arrest is damaging to the sport and the player's reputation.
The NFL has a problem that is on the verge of spiraling out of control. Expect action by Goodell, but will it be enough?
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