The NFL is fast becoming a joke. I’m from New Zealand and as an outsider looking in, all of these "off the field issues" are getting very comical. The problem in my eyes isn’t the fact that all these players are getting in trouble off the field but the reaction of the league, the teams, the fans and the media. There is NO consistency or rationality in the punishments; Rodger Goodell’s no-nonsense policy is absolute nonsense. The team’s draft or sign players with a history of "off field issues" then when the players inevitably get into trouble they vilify the players, avoid all responsibility and act like they didn’t see it coming. The fans proclaim these troubled players are scumbags and filth yet when their team acquires one for a bargain price they are suddenly the missing pieces to the puzzle that will lead their team to the Promised Land. The media write these big pieces that can more accurately be described as sensationalism than journalism, vilifying players for anything that calls into question their morality. I’m not condoning the things that these players do, as a NFL fan I hate what these players are doing to the sport, but everyone is just perpetuating the problem. It’s hilarious.
I just read the article on this site about how Big Ben was cleared of his assault charge. I’m not going to go into the whole guilty vs. innocent debate I’m more interested in the final line of the piece:
“Early in his career, he was photographed -- obviously after drinking -- wearing a T-shirt reading "Drink Like a Champion." “
This is text book yellow/sensationalist journalism. What was this meant to achieve? Other than enhancing the scandal and thus its appeal to readers it has no relevance to the article. There is nothing wrong with drinking a few beers and wearing a novelty T-Shirt, and further more it happened years ago and wasn’t news then. It perpetuates the problem.
If Goodell really wanted to stamp out these issues he’d do better than the 4-week suspensions he typically hands out. The NFL needs to adopt a policy that signals out the repeat offenders and holds not only the players but the teams responsible. As it stands now teams are better of with the players than without them. Sure they might catch a bit of stick from the media and the public but they are better off on the field if they retain these players, or if they acquire them via trades or free agency. The reactions of the Fans enforce this. How many fans are calling for their teams to trade for Michael Vick? What’s the bet that a big chunk of these guys where calling him the scum of the earth when he was with the Falcons?
If it were up to me and I wanted to stamp all of this out I’d create a three strikes policy. Three offenses and you’re done. For good. Players who have had issues prior to entering the league start on one strike. If a team retains or adds a player after they’ve had a strike they are liable for a fine if that player re-offends, the fines increase if that player has two strikes. A policy like that would show the players, the teams and the sporting public that these issues will not be tolerated.
But that won’t happen; at the end of the day if these players help a team win they are wanted. So I’ll just continue to sit back and laugh at the hypocrisy of the league and the fans whose prime concern is apparently the integrity of the NFL and it's public image.