COMMENTARY: NFL arrests: players are people too

NFL arrests: players are people too


Photo credit/ Katlynn Whitaker

Paul Capoccia, Community Editor

When Roger Goodell said the NFL made “enormous progress” since the Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson scandals, he probably didn’t have the start of 2015 in mind.

Nearly a dozen active NFL players have been arrested since Jan. 1 for crimes including rape, domestic abuse, assault, and DUI. Hall of Famer and NFL Network analyst Warren Sapp was also arrested for soliciting a prostitute and assaulting two women. Josh Gordon of the Cleveland Browns is suspended for next season after failing another drug test, teammate Johnny Manziel checked himself into an undisclosed rehabilitation program, and former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez remains in prison and in court on murder charges.

Should Roger Goodell and the NFL be concerned? The record setting audience for Super Bowl XLIX certainly seems to say they shouldn’t be. Whether it was Marshawn Lynch’s “thank you for asking” or New England’s Deflate-Gate scandal, the NFL has never left the public eye. Even after 2014 when sponsors and the nation were up in arms over the Ray Rice video and Adrian Peterson’s son’s bruises from a disciplinary switch, it’s evident viewers weren’t turned off from the NFL.

And why should they have been? Ticket holders on Sundays across the country are paying to see star athletes play football, not role models flaunting gold stars. Players don’t join the NFL to be role models; they’re employees in an entertainment business.

While kids and teens, and even some adults, will always look up to athletes as examples of individuals who have conquered great adversity to be the beneficiaries of unimaginable wealth and success, it’s important to keep in mind who they really are.

Emerging rookies and up and coming stars are usually under age 25, while perennial winners Peyton Manning and Tom Brady haven’t touched age 40. In either case, they are only human, and none have asked to be considered role models. A few mistakes, whether in the public eye or not, are inevitable considering the wealth and responsibility thrust upon them.

Though these arrests seem to never leave headlines, less than a dozen players being arrested out of nearly 2,000 players, excluding inactive and retired players, isn’t a bad percentage. It’s the beginning of the offseason; players are trying to fill time, and some are having some trouble readjusting.

With today’s social media and constant headlines revolving around the world of sports, it’s often easy to forget all professional athletes are people too. They go to work each day, have families, and enjoy lives outside of their jobs. They may perform super human feats on the court and on the field, but they’re prone to the same mistakes as anyone else. And that’s okay.