On the heels of the Kenny Britt arrest, I think it’s time we talk about a larger problem. Britt is now the 10th player arrested since the NFL locked out its players on March 11. The talented Titans’ wide receiver has had previous run-ins with the law. In the last year, Britt has been arrested for outstanding traffic warrants and accused of throwing punches during a bar fight last October in Nashville, (although he was later exonerated by a grand jury.)
Back on March 11th when the NFL and NFLPA couldn’t come to an agreement on a new CBA, the owners began their lockout. One month later, most football operations still cease to exist. The professional athletes who would ordinarily use the team’s facilities to work out and stay in touch with each other, have been on their own. That doesn’t sound too bad to most adults, but professional football players aren’t most adults. These are adults that are accustomed to having their days planned for them, workouts scheduled, and a regimen laid out.
I don’t want to stereotype all the players into this single category, but a majority do fit into this group. Many of these players breezed through high school by having a coach that wanted to build his own resume. They were the kings of the campus in college. Then when they made it to the pros, they were given more money than they could imagine. In many instances, people started treating them like they were better than others, so they began to start acting like it.
These divas of sport are use to having food prepared for them, agents telling them when and where to be, and women throwing themselves at them. Friends and family members are the only ones that can keep them from getting a big head but they say nothing because they don’t want to be cut off. Most often, the only voice of reason usually comes from the team or organization, whether it’s the owners, coaches, or older, mature teammates that have made the same mistakes.
What happens when you take the only positive away from these individuals and surround them by ego feeders and people with their hands out, always wanting more? Well, what happened is what tends to happen every offseason, players get arrested. When the lockout was announced, I said that we would see a record amount of arrest this offseason. The reason for this is that it’s an extended period of unscheduled time without structure for these 3rd person speaking citizens.
So here we are literally just one month later and we’ve already had 10 arrests (more than two per week!):
- Green Bay Packers: Johnny Jolly – Possession of 600 grams of Codeine.
- Philadelphia Eagles: Jason Peters – Loud music, resisting arrest
- Dallas Cowboys: Bryan McCann – Public Intoxication
- Minnesota Vikings: Chris Cook – Brandishing a Gun
- Tampa Bay Bucs: Aqib Talib – Aggravated Assault
- Oakland Raiders: Mario Henderson – Possession of a Gun without Concealed Weapons License, Louis Murphy – Viagra Pills with prescriptions
- Denver Broncos: Laurence Maroney – Possession of Marijuana
- Kansas City Chiefs: Mike Vrabel - Felony Theft
- Tennessee Titans: Kenny Britt – eluding a police officer, lying to an officer, hindering apprehension and obstructing governmental function
It almost appears as a Super Bowl battle, with the NFC taking on the AFC to see who gets the most arrests. Right now the score is all tied up 5-5 with the AFC West looking to take home some special honors).
I wonder if the NFL is happy with the new faces of their game? Instead of talking about free agent acquisitions, we are left with the images of these mug shots dancing in our heads. Unlike last season when Ben Roethlisberger and Vince Young had off the field troubles, this season, there isn’t anything going on to take the focus off of these arrests.
The NFL has more arrest than the NBA and MLB combine most seasons. This can be contributed to the way the season is set up in these leagues. Major League Baseball plays 162 games and the National Basketball Association plays 82 regular season games, while the National Football League only plays 16 (as of now). Players stay more disciplined and focused for games. Even though the season is year round, players don’t focus on practice as much as game time. This gives the NFL athlete more down time and more occasions for off the field issues.
Now, this season, the teams have taken away the offseason practices. There’s nothing to keep these players from going out all night, no one forcing them to run through drills, be in the weight room, etc. The lazy athletes, without drive, don’t face any immediate repercussions for not going to a workout on any particular day. Players can stay out until 6 am and let the voice in their head or ear convince them to push back tomorrow’s workout.
Everyone thinks that the players have to end for themselves, so they can get paid. They also need to end the lockout to protect themselves and stay out of trouble. The owners have non-monetary reasons to end the lockout too, they need to end the lockout or they won’t have a product that anyone will respect. The longer these players go without discipline, the worse this situation will become; for all.