NFL Enduring Negative Publicity With 31 Players Now Arrested During Offseason
These are “supposed to be the quietest days for the NFL,” yet as the calendar “turns to July, the NFL is getting besieged with the worst of publicity,” according to Lindsay Jones of USA TODAY. A report from the San Diego Union-Tribune shows that 31 NFLers have been arrested since the Super Bowl, and NFL Senior VP/PR Greg Aiello yesterday said, "One is too many. We have policies and programs that hold all NFL employees accountable and provide them with programs of education and support" (USA TODAY, 7/1). PRO FOOTBALL TALK’s Michael David Smith wrote Geraldo Rivera and Rush Limbaugh are using former Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez' murder case “to tell their audiences that the NFL is contributing to a decaying American culture.” Rivera appeared on Fox News and said that the NFL and player agents “should do more to keep players like Hernandez out of trouble.” Rivera: “I don’t know why the league who recruits these kids from the inner city, how they don’t have minders, how the agents who are collecting 10 percent of $40 million, where are they in all of this?” He added, “They sign them because they’re superb athletes and do nothing to preserve their character and put them on the right road toward manhood. It’s really pathetic.” Meanwhile, Limbaugh said that the Hernandez case "demonstrates the problem with a gang culture in the NFL.” Limbaugh: “This has the potential to blow the lid open on the NFL and gangs and the whole concept” (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 6/28).
TARNISHING THE SHIELD: In Hartford, Paul Doyle wrote the NFL has been “painted as a lawless organization” in the national media after the arrests of Hernandez and Browns rookie LB Ausar Walcott. The two murder arrests “raised the issue of violent behavior in the NFL to a new level.” Former NFLer Don McPherson said, “The NFL is revealing the lack of preparation of these young men who live a life of such notoriety and wealth.” Doyle notes there had been a “steady decline in arrests over the past seven years in the NFL" (HARTFORD COURANT, 6/30). In Detroit, Drew Sharp wrote, "There is an accepted casualness to guns within the NFL culture.” As the Hernandez case unfolds, the NFL “should worry that the dissection of his personality might unearth an anger making him perfect for the brutality of the sport, but incapable of flipping that switch off when the game’s over -- particularly when a gun’s involved” (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 6/30). SPORTS ON EARTH’s Mike Tanier asks, “How can we continue to love the NFL, when we are faced with something dark and evil every time we slow down long enough to notice it?” Fans can “love the NFL and hate the fact that a handful of NFL players do terrible things” (SPORTSONEARTH.com, 7/1). In Detroit, Jerry Green wrote the NFL is “mired in buckets of dirty stuff,” and the league’s image is “smeared.” Green: “In a way -- perhaps in a perverse way -- Hernandez is symbolic of all that the superiority-conscious NFL has become. In size. In style. In Roman-candles flamboyance. In wealth. In TV ratings. And in misbehavior” (DETROIT NEWS, 6/30). NBC Sports’ Rob Simmelkjaer said, “The problem is the NFL cannot change society. It cannot go into the neighborhoods and the families where these kids are being selected and fix the problems that exist that lead to some of these individuals getting into trouble later in life.” Branding expert Rob Frankel said, “If I were the NFL, I would certainly take this as a wake up call. I would never want my brand to be tarnished and dragged into the mud by murderers, rogues, and thieves” (“Today,” NBC, 6/30).
SHOULD TEAMS DO TIME TOO? SPORTING NEWS’ David Steele wrote NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has tried “harsh punishments of such players," but it is now “time to wrench the train of discipline in a different direction.” Steele: “Who is, in fact, responsible for escorting a series of ticking time bombs into the league? The teams. From the owners through management down to the coaches. It's their turn to pay, for them to be sent a message.” The team that “chose to look the other way ... should take a hit, too.” A fine of $2M “should get every team's attention,” and it should be implemented “every time such a risky player with a documented history of violence is convicted or pleads to a violent crime, or one that involves guns or other weapons or alcohol” (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 6/28). N.Y. Daily News’ Mike Lupica noted Hernandez was passed on by several teams during the NFL Draft, adding, "Goodell has to get involved in this thoroughly. I want to know why the teams passed.” Lupica said Goodell “has the right to go back and say, ‘What was your draft report on him, how was your pre-draft interview with this guy?’” Lupica noted that the NFL has “the right to go to the Patriots and say, ‘What was your thinking?’ The red flags that all those other teams were not willing to ignore, with someone this talented, why were you willing to ignore them?” (“Sports Reporters,” ESPN, 6/30).
LATE NIGHT TREATMENT: NBC’s Jay Leno said, “This has been a tough week for the NFL. ... In fact, now the NFL is begging the press to start talking about concussions again.” Leno added, “The statistics are not good, 27 NFL players have been arrested just since the last Super Bowl. In fact, this could be the first year that we see a prison football team in the playoffs” (“The Tonight Show,” NBC, 6/28).