The NFL, like any other national organization with a big footprint, is a microcosm of society at large. We had good people, and we have bad people. They come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and jerseys too.
Since I can remember, there have been professional sports athletes and celebrities that have enjoyed the privilege of being “above the law” and literally getting away with offenses that we “regular folk” would be in jail for. The most recent media blitz about domestic violence and Ray Rice have only pushed this into the mainstream and caught the ire/attention of America. I’m sorry for Janay Rice, but I’m happy this has happened.
Pro sports players drive drunk, speed, run red lights and more just like the rest of us, and in the same numbers too. They commit assaults, batter wives and girlfriends, speed down the highways, and get caught like most of us do as well. It’s what happens after they get caught is where the divide begins.
As you can imagine, there are lots of friendly cops and business owners who will give a heaping of “benefit of the doubt” when they are in a situation with a pro athlete or celebrity, and this literally translates into a pass most of the time. Unless something gets broken or someone else sees the infraction, most of these guys walk away from (or driven away from) crimes that the average person is arrested for.
For example, if most of us get pulled over and we’re drunk, we’re going to jail and our lives go into a legal and financial tailspin. If you’re the starting running back for an NFL team… you might have to sign an autograph and yak it up with a local officer for a bit, but even that cop is somehow (unnaturally) concerned with the athlete’s image. Like that athlete actually cares about the cop as he’s driving away…laughing at how easy it was for them to get away with (whatever they just did).
I’ve seen this a few times in my own life and it doesn’t shock me that this continues now. I remember when a member of the Washington Wizards was pulled over in DC for speeding and running a red light, this happened in the late 90’s. The cop smelled alcohol on the driver (a pro point guard) and the car reeked of marijuana. The officer got all (star confused) and “didn’t want to get the person in trouble” so he asked the passenger to drive from that point forward. He collected an autograph and sent the player on without a ticket.
One of my best friends was that passenger.. and so I know the story is true. Not even a wrist-slap, this is how the story goes in real life. I am firm in my belief that we only hear about a few of these incidents, so whatever gets reported in the news is a small percentage of what really goes on.
Let’s take the conversation forward, and put on the current narrative and “game face” of the NFL. This organization has long-since taken a lasseiz faire approach to disciplining players for their off-field behaviors, because punishing them for beating up their wife… well that’s bad for business.
If you can sweep it under the carpet, you can make it go away. Our callous society is far too interested in how many yards-per-carry their favorite running back is getting to worry about anything they do off the field. There’s an underlying consensus that the players would probably have more to lose in endorsements if they mess up, so that will be the litmus test of their actions. But, are companies like PepsiCo and Anheuser-Busch going to stop selling soda and beer if you hit your kid with a switch?
This is the same self-centered approach it took with the ongoing concussion issues, which the #NFL has repeatedly lied and covered up scientific evidence that playing football is bad for the brain. Did you know that 30% of NFL ballers are likely to develop Alzheimers or Dimentia? That’s a number being used in the formula in the NFL concussion lawsuit…
“The actuarial analysis also suggested that former NFL players stand about twice the risk as the general population to suffer from early-onset Alzheimer’s, ALS, Parkinson’s or dementia.” [Forbes, 9/12/2014]
If you’re still in the dark about the NFL Concussion issue – take the time to watch the documentary film called League of Denial. It will change what you think about the game, and watching the game.
Whatever (whoever) the commissioner of the NFL has said in the past about anything, you can bet it was a calculated, well-thought-out PR move that was intentional, they don’t do anything haphazardly. Why mess with the money?
Now, as it turns out, there are no more excuses, everything is OUT THERE and people – Women and Men – are pissed off that their beloved football has a black eye. The NFL is worried that pissing off Moms and female consumers might be a bad idea.
By Louis Wing