ESPN recently slammed the NFL for its host of bad boy behavior. There is a disparagement that seems to support the whole “crime-in-the-NFL” phenomenon that is unfortunate.
It’s been stated previously by a respected agent that most of the league’s general managers are well aware of the men on their rosters which are potential troublemakers. Most teams have at least 10 guys that have the potential to be problematic and they are usually centered on those who play defensive positions; wide receivers are the most notorious.
It’s a sort of no win situation. The general managers feel like they have to take on a certain amount of potential headaches if they expect to win. Without some trash talking, selfish and hardcore competitive temperaments a win is almost impossible.
The problem arises, however, when they wink at stupid behavior. These team managers knew exactly what they were getting when they either drafted or acquired by trade notable bad boys like Chad Johnson, Terrell ‘T.O.’ Owens, Adam ‘Pac-Man’ Jones, Ben Rothlisburger, Aldon Smith and Von Miller. They are only truly disappointed when one of these guys does something publicly stupid while they were the acting enablers.
Within the last few months at least 17 teams were hit by the many arrests involving members of the NFL. When problems become this vast it doesn’t just stay with an individual team it spreads throughout the organization and affects the brand as a whole.
At least 30 active players have been arrested since the Baltimore Ravens won Super Bowl XLVII on Feb. 3. There have been approximately 58 within the last calendar year. The list of offenses continues to broaden with things like; marijuana possession charges, assault and battery, DUI arrests, probation violation, sexual assault allegations, bar/club fights, street racing and even cheating on a piss test.
When bad boy behavior is overlooked the repercussions may not be felt immediately but the consequences always surface and usually don’t balance ‘crime’. Here are some notable points about bad boy behavior:
- Bad boy behavior is often overlooked because of talent: Often when the player is talented enough they tend to get a slap on the wrist or a lower degree of consequence in order to lessen their time off of the playing field. The problem with this approach is people generally will only change when it hurts more to stay the same. If the punishment doesn’t hurt enough, the problem doesn’t go away it just grows.
- Bad boy behavior affects younger sports enthusiasts: This sends a message to potential sports players that it’s okay to act in questionable or negative behavior as long as you possess the talent to score. The perception is boundaries are only for those less talented players but accountability is not required for the advanced player. It teaches them to focus more on skill than ethics; eliminating an obligation for both.
- Bad boy behavior is a direct reflection of coaching staff: The team is always a reflection of the leader and unchecked bad boy behavior eventually ends up costing the coach more that they want to pay. It is the coach’s responsibility to coach their players into a good representation of the brand on and off the field. There is no one else to blame when this is not achieved. It is an injustice when coaches place all the emphasis on winning the game and neglect the necessary checks and balances of the ethics clause.
- Bad boy behavior ultimately tarnishes the NFL: The NFL is a brand. An organization’s brand is a living thing that needs to be nurtured and cherished. It is how others perceive and speak of the product. More importantly, it is fragile and can easily be damaged. Brands are usually tarnished from within; because of self-inflicted actions. Unchecked bad boy behavior falls under the umbrella of a self-inflicted injury and could greatly hurt the strongest branding.
By and large the challenge facing these NFL players is they grew up in a family and community riddled with struggle. Being a product of the inner city plight has not prepared them for the massive fortunes they are given. Where are the agents in all of this and why aren’t they mentoring these kids?
Many of these young men come from single parent homes or from “thug” life environments and then they are thrust into the NFL and simply expected to govern themselves accordingly. Teams either need to be more cautious when selecting players or more diligent with accountability; on and off the field.
Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner, says he takes great pride in the NFL’s personal conduct policy. This policy suspends players who engage in bad boy or questionable behavior. At this rate that policy doesn’t appear to be much of a deterrent.
This is all about personal responsibility. No matter how many times Goodell talks about “protecting the shield” far too often players that maintain the bad boy behavior have simply been hit with a slap on the wrist instead of a worthy consequence. ESPN commentators agree.
By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)