Stop breaking the law jackass! That line seems to resonate with me every time I see a multi-millionaire athlete commit a crime that puts his or her career in jeopardy. Everyone from Aaron Hernandez to Ray Rice to Adrian Peterson to Greg Hardy and hell even Hope Solo had some serious issues last year. This isn’t a new phenomenon and it isn’t an original story. The fact that the previous sentence is true is disgusting. When the hell did we as a sports loving nation, as a society, as members of humanity itself become so accustomed to this level of degeneration?
Last year we saw a cold blooded execution from a highly visible professional athlete. Even by NFL standards, Aaron Hernandez went above and beyond to be a complete piece of human excrement. Then we had, and this is in no particular order, Ray Rice who mercilessly knocked his then girlfriend clean the F*** out. Let’s not forget about Greg Hardy, who seems to have somehow slipped under the radar as far as outrage is concerned but suffice it to say that he is not someone you would want your daughter to date or your son to emulate. Adrian Peterson took it another level when images surfaced of a child’s legs who he had admittedly “whipped” with a switch.
I’m not big on the NFL being able to dictate to their players individual parenting styles but when you assault a four year old, maybe it is time you sit down and think about what you’ve done for a while.
This was truly a banner year for the NFL with major PR problems on its hands throughout the year due to the commissioner’s (mis)handling of all the issues these scum bag players throw at him. Bringing us to the bigger question surrounding the NFL and really all of sports in general. When the hell did this become so normal that most people aren’t really surprise when the news breaks?
We live in a world where we are more connected than we have ever been in human history. The social networks of the world connect you straight into the pockets of your favorite players and teams and we walk around daily checking our cell phones for scoring updates and breaking news alerts. People have to know that their personal lives are not as personal as they once were. That idea must ring true for professional athletes. To a degree that most people will never be able to fathom. How is it then that these people that we hold up as sports heroes don’t have the basic human decency to not execute their friends, beat their wives and kids, and commit countless misdemeanor and felony crimes in public? How hard is it to not break the law in such a way that you put your entire livelihood in jeopardy and cause bodily harm to others?
Our society lives in a politically correct world that handcuffs emotion, and I would argue truth and justice as well. I would really like to see men stand up for what is true and just.
I would like a return to civility and professionalism. I would love to see a group of 53 NFL players say to the degenerate on their team that just beat his wife or child that their behavior won’t be tolerated. If I had friends or teammates that committed those crimes I would at the very least extradite them out of my life.
This piece wasn’t meant to be a holier than thou smear piece aimed at people I have never met and who I only have a casual outsider’s perspective of. It was written to be a call to action to all those people that have allowed this kind of behavior to become something that isn’t unexpected. Players, coaches, executives, and the league in general need to stand up and say enough is enough. I don’t like a three strike rule. I would prefer a league I could be proud of as a fan. I would prefer a league that stood up as a respected organization and said, “We will not stand for violence against women or children and we will not stand for criminal behavior in any capacity”.
Maybe I am overly optimistic. Maybe I am giving these athletes and this NFL entirely too much credit. The NFL talks about how football is a game of inches and yet they are falling miles short of being an organization that resembles what a casual observer would consider serious problems. I love the NFL and the game of football, but I hate bullies and criminals.
In the end, I wish I didn’t have to feel conflicted on Sundays.