NFeLons: The Woes of America’s Favorite Sport (Part 1)

In yet another batch of great news for the NFL, wide receiver Braylon Edwards was arrested on drunk driving charges this Tuesday. But don’t worry, he’ll still get to put on his jersey and play for the J-E-T-S, Jets-Jets-Jets on Sunday.

Professional sports has a problem, but the NFL has become perhaps the worst offender. Commissioner Roger Goodell has done a great job in most regards, but his focus on discipline and suspensions for “legally-challenged” players hasn’t exactly done the trick. His league is in trouble.

Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (pictured below) drew headlines earlier this year for his second (read again: second) arrest related to accusations of sexual assault. In both cases, the charges against Roethlisberger were eventually dropped, but what is certain is that Big Ben is consistently putting himself into high-risk situations. If he is being falsely accused, then perhaps he should, oh, I don’t know…stop hanging out (and drinking) with 20-year-old college students when he’s a 28-year-old NFL quarterback who carries the weight of one of the league’s most storied and reputable franchises on his shoulders?

Big Ben has been suspended for the first six games of the regular season, but he and Edwards are far from the only offenders. If you’d like to see just how many NFL players have found their way into problems leading them to stand before strict men and women wearing scary black robes, then click this link; it chronicles all NFL player-related arrests and citations since 2000 (that were more serious than speeding tickets). Just don’t try to make your way through all 517 of them, unless you have around ten hours to spare.

Some highlights from this year:

8/8/2010 – Colts DL John Gill
Incident: Arrested, charged with public intoxication. Police said he was found passed out on side of road.

Classy, John. Really, really classy.

7/1/2010 – Titans QB Chris Simms
Incident: Arrested, charged with driving while intoxicated with marijuana in New York.

Don’t worry…I’m sure you had a prescription, Chris. I’m also sure that you made Texas and your dad very proud. And by “proud,” I mean “humiliated.”

6/29/2010 – Bengals RB Cedric Benson
Incident:  Arrested, charged with misdemeanor assault stemming from May 30 incident in Austin, Texas. He allegedly punched bar employee in face.

Perhaps he was upset that the bartender didn’t recognize his picture hanging on the wall from his days as a Texas lawman. Or maybe I’m thinking of Augustus McCrae…

5/26/2010 – Dolphins DE Phillip Merling
Incident: Arrested, charged with aggravated battery on pregnant girlfriend.

You’re supposed to feel the BABY kick, not the other way around.

5/24/2010 – Chargers S Kevin Ellison
Incident: Arrested in Redondo Beach on suspicion of possessing a controlled substance: 100 pills of Vicodin.

Sounds like he was making a delivery to this guy.

5/7/2010 – Redskins TE Fred Davis
Incident: Charged with driving with a suspended license, falsely identifying himself to law enforcement.

The police were tipped off when he identified himself as “Fred Flintstone.”

4/17/2010 – Browns RB Chris Jennings
Incident: Arrested on suspicion of assault after incident with doorman in Cleveland.

This one I understand. Those doorman are really asking for it.

4/1/2010 – Browns DT Shaun Rogers
Incident: Arrested after officials said a loaded gun was found in his bag at the Cleveland airport. Rogers told officials he forgot it was there.

Sooooo…what was it there for originally?

3/13/2010 – Packers TE Spencer Havner
Incident: Arrested in California on suspicion of DUI after motorcycle accident around 2:45 a.m.

Because, after a night of drinking, why NOT ride a motorcycle?

1/17/2010 – Chargers WR Vincent Jackson
Incident: Pulled over for “loud music,” handcuffed, cited for driving with a suspended license, expired registration.

This story would be so much better if I could prove the loud music was Yo Yo Ma.

I intentionally left out the endless stream of DUI and DWI charges because it started getting ridiculous, but you can see them by visiting the aforementioned link.

The NFL’s player conduct policy is a great thing, and I’m firmly supportive of what they’ve done so far, but unless they get control of these players, America’s favorite sport is going to suffer a backlash (they have other problems to deal with – coming in Part 2).

The scary party: I’m not sure they can. These players are coddled from the time they break out in high school football, enjoy endless benefits and gain widespread notoriety as college players, and then cap it off by receiving millions of dollars to play a game. How do you control a league full of narcissists?

NFL, we’re watching. It’s your move.

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