|Photo Credit: businessinsider.com|
Twenty-seven is the number of NFL players who have been arrested and charged -- some receiving multiple arrests for multiple offenses. Thirty-one is the total number of NFL arrests. When have these offenses occurred? All have occurred this offseason since the end of the Super Bowl on February 3, 2013.
What gives? Is the NFL too lenient on their punishments for players who misbehave? Is it the NFL's responsibility to teach players right from wrong? What can this year's rookie class learn from the mistakes of veterans?
Let's take a look back at 2010 when Pittsburgh Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was accused of sexually assaulting a college student in Georgia. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell issued this statement:
"You do not have to be convicted or even charged of a crime to be able to demonstrate that you've violated a personal conduct policy, and reflect poorly not only on themselves, but all of their teammates, every NFL player in the league, and everyone associated with the NFL. And that is what my concern is, and I have expressed that directly to Ben, obviously, and I will be making a decision as soon as I possibly can."
Remember: In that instance Big Ben was given a six game suspension, reduced to four.
What has changed?
With the recent arrest of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez we haven't heard anything from Goodell or his camp. Based on the evidence alone Goodell has the authority to suspend him indefinitely -- even more so now as the case against Hernandez develops.
More severe punishments need to be handed down for players who commit crimes. The NFL needs to have a zero tolerance policy for those who think they are above the law.
Only three payers since 2011, aside from the Bounty Gate scandal, have been handed down suspensions for their respective crimes: Cedric Benson (three games), Aaron Berry (three games), and Kenny Britt (one game).
Let's take a look at some of the players who have gotten suspended for much smaller infractions:
1. James Harrison - In 2011, Harrison was suspended for a hit on Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy.
2. Joe Mays - Mays was also suspended for his hit on Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub.
3. Ndamukong Suh - In 2011, Suh was suspended two games for stomping on Packers linemen Evan Dietrich-Smith.
I'm not saying that players shouldn't be punished for violating on-field rules, but don't you think it's odd that players who violate the rules on the field are punished more severely than those who commit crimes and are arrested? We know the long term effects that illegal hits can have on a players body, but what about the countless players who are arrested for driving while under the influence and putting everyone on the road at risk. Should they be punished by the NFL for their actions?
The answer is yes.
The NFL needs to come up with a policy, and quickly, that determines how many games a player will be suspended based on the crimes they commit. This policy needs to be heavily enforced and all players need to be aware of it. Not only do their actions reflect poorly on themselves, they reflect poorly on their teams and the organization as a whole. The NFL is beginning to look like a group of over-paid, arrogant, men who think they are above the law because they play a professional sport. This needs not be the case any longer and Goodell needs to take the necessary steps to make a change. Why should an NFL player be treated any differently than the average Joe?
While it is not the responsibility of the NFL to teach players right from wrong, it is their responsibility to punish players accordingly. The NFL needs to set the stage for this year's rookie class with a no tolerance policy on off-field actions. I believe the NFL has worried too much about what occurs on the field that they have overlooked players actions off the field.
Parents shouldn't have to explain to their children why they can no longer wear their Aaron Hernandez jersey or explain what driving under the influence is because their favorite player is dumb enough to get behind the wheel of a car intoxicated when clearly they can afford to hire a driver. It's an honor to be looked up to by our youth and while it isn't an NFL players' responsibility to teach someone's child right from wrong, they are a high profiled individual and should help set the standard. These athletes commit crimes that can be avoided.
Only one percent of all NCAA football players have the chance to go onto the professional level, so why is it that so many players are willing to throw it all away?
Bleacher Report, with the help of Business Insider and San Diego Union Tribune, compiled a list of all the arrests since the Super Bowl:
Michael Boley, New York Giants - February 8, 2013 - Arrested for child abuse.
Da'Quan Bowers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - February 18, 2013 - Arrested for having a gun in his luggage.
Al Netter, San Francisco 49ers - February 22, 2013 - Arrested for DUI.
Desmond Bryant, Cleveland Browns - February 24, 2013 - Arrested for criminal mischief.
J'Marcus Webb, Chicago Bears - February 24, 2013 - Arrested for marijuana possession.
Jarvarris Lee, Arizona Cardinals - March 7, 2013 - Arrested for failing to appear in court.
Quinton Carter, Denver Broncos - March 9, 2013 - Arrested for allegedly cheating at craps.
Cody Grimm, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - March 10, 2013 - Arrested for public intoxication on two separate occasions.
Evan Rodriguez, Chicago Bears - March 21, 2013 and May 31, 2013 - Arrested for resisting an officer.
Trumaine Johnson, St. Louis Rams - March 22, 2013 - Arrested for misdemeanor DUI.
Brandon Barden, Tennessee Titans - March 23, 2013 - Arrested on suspicion of DUI.
Amari Spivey, Detroit Lions - March 27, 2013 - Arrested for third-degree assault.
William Moore, Atlanta Falcons - April 18, 2013 - Arrested for simple battery.
Rolando McClain, Baltimore Ravens - April 22, 2013 - Arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
Ronnell Lewis, Detroit Lions - April 23, 2013 - Arrested for getting in a bar fight.
Quentin Groves, Cleveland Browns - April 24, 2013 - Arrested for solicitation.
Cliff Harris, New York Jets - May 2, 2013 - Arrested for marijuana possession.
Claude David, New York Jets - May 2, 2013 - Arrested for marijuana possession.
Daryl Washington, Arizona Cardinals - May 3, 2013 - Arrested for aggravated assault.
Armonty Bryant, Cleveland Browns - May 6, 2013 - Arrested for DUI.
Titus Young, Free Agent - May 5, 2013, twice and May 10, 2013 - Arrested on suspicion of DUI, and then arrested again hours later for attempting to steal his own car back from the tow yard. Was also arrested less than a week later for burglary.
Mike Goodson, New York Jets - May 17, 2013 - Arrested on drug and gun charges.
Joe Morgan, New Orleans Saints - May 29, 2013 - Arrested for DWI.
Pacman Jones, Cincinnati Bengals - June 11, 2013 - Arrested on an assault charge.
Jason Peters, Philadelphia Eagles - June 12, 2013 - Arrested for street racing.
Aaron Hernandez, New England Patriots - June 26, 2013 - Arrested for a murder and five gun-related charges.
Ausar Walcott, Cleveland Browns - June 26, 2013 - Arrested for attempted murder.
With a month left until teams open their respective training camps, it wouldn't surprise anyone if this list continued to grow.