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Off- field penalties

A recent history of crime in football

Article: Dylan Criddle

On June 26, 2013, former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was arrested from his Miami home, and was formally charged with the murder of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd.

He now faces a trial for his murder as well as six other gun-related charges from past years. Before his arrest, it was teammate Rob Gronkowski who was notorious for his questionable character, stemming from his post-superbowl celebration in 2012, when pictures of him partying shirtless with LMFAO went viral.

Aaron was not well known for his off the field antics, and his connection to Lloyd’s murder was a shock to most who follow the NFL.

As time went on, people began to fill in the blanks on who the former Pro-bowler really was. An article released by Rolling Stone magazine on Aug. 28 illustrates a player who separated himself from the team, missed practice, surrounded himself with shady characters, and whose abuse of PCP (or Angel Dust) led him to the paranoid conclusion that his life was in danger.

As it turns out, several NFL organizations had an idea of the kind of person Hernandez was. Cincinnati Bengals’ owner Mike Brown admitted to Fox Spots Ohio that the organization “stayed away from [Hernandez]” in the 2010 draft because of character issues.


Multiple money sign tattoos won’t help you now.
Multiple money sign tattoos won’t help you now. /source: onlyagame,wbur.org

What’s really concerning is how team executives closely involved with Hernandez managed to let his behaviour go unchecked. Not only was Hernandez on good grounds with the Patriots a year before the arrest, but he was re-signed to a five year extension.

Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft told the Boston Globe, “No one in our organization was aware of any of these kinds of connections….Our whole organization was duped.”           Yet, if the reports of Hernandez missing practice were true, and the Patriots’ were aware of his off-the-field issues, this should have been a red flag to investigate further.

While Hernandez’s case is probably the most shocking one in the last ten years, it definitely doesn’t stand-alone.

There have been 130 incidents of current NFL players getting arrested since 2011 alone. Since the Superbowl in February, 30 NFL players besides Hernandez have been arrested.

Ex-Detroit wide receiver Titus Young may have broken an NFL record this year with three arrests in just five days. However, NFL players aren’t the only ones with a bad record of law run-ins.
Over two hundred NCAA football athletes were arrested in 2012 alone. For example, Georgia Bulldogs’ linebacker Alec Ogletree was arrested twice before the end of his college career. Yet he was talented enough for the St. Louis Rams to risk a first round pick on him in this year’s draft.

Canadian football is not immune to problems with players getting arrested either. But, it’s also worth noting that the only arrest noteworthy of active CFL players this season was Jonathan Hefney’s arrest for marijuana possession.
CIS football incidents have also been few and isolated. The most recent arrest incident to note was of former Manitoba Bisons’ lineman Joe Botelho, who was found not guilty of manslaughter in 2012. Still, off-field problems that plague U.S. football is not nearly as evident north of the border.

To be fair, many NFL organizations believe that their team is capable of reforming troubled players, like the Minnesota Vikings did with newly inducted hall of famer Cris Carter.
However, for every success story there seems to be two or three players who can’t stay out of trouble. If NFL organizations are willing to risk incidents like that of Hernandez for the sake of improving their team, they should be willing to take a more active role in preventing situations like his to happen again.

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