Sunday, July 01, 2007

Say No to Thugs! (a three-part blog series)

“What the heck is going on out there???” the Great Man would say if he were here today commenting on the numerous incidents of National Football League players getting arrested—for all sort of crimes, from DUI, to physical violence to weapons charges. It’s really depressing when you look at the NFL headlines on Web sites like and most of what you find involves reports of players getting in trouble with the law. Sports are supposed to be a pleasant diversion from the ugliness we see in the international news headlines, or the forecasts for the real estate market.

The bright new NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, obviously wants to solve this problem, and he seems to be trying to get the message across that thug-like behavior won’t be tolerated. But the question is, are the players listening? Clearly, he has a tough task ahead.

Several sportswriters have observed that in reality, all that matters in professional sports is winning, and if you are a talented enough player to help your team win, it doesn’t matter what kind of citizen you are. The teams are willing to give the players any number of second, third or fourth chances, much more than an employee of a company in the “real world” would be allowed. Many corporations, in fact, don’t allow second chances whatsoever.

Packers Literary Corner wants to lend a hand toward making sure the NFL doesn’t end up being the Naughty Felons League. Maybe Mr. Goodell needs a catchy slogan that could be run in advertisements, to remind the owners and coaches (and fans) that integrity in professional sports should be as important as winning. How about:


One big city newspaper took a look at the incidence of NFL players being arrested and compared it to that of the general population—and found the numbers very similar, almost as though the problem has been blown out of proportion. This is fuzzy logic at best, because NFL players are not part of the “general population.” The correct peer group to compare them to would be:

--Pampered millionaire celebrities who only have to work a few months per year.

And among this group, football players have had a higher incidence of running afoul of the law in the last several years, even if we count every single encounter Paris Hilton has had with the police, and give Mel Gibson double penalty points because of the foul-mouthed things he said to the police officer who arrested him in Malibu.

It’s time the fans let the league know that they want them to get rid of the players who can’t behave like decent citizens.


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