The NFL is cracking down on the safety of the players, but what are they doing for the safety of the people? Fans can argue all they want about how the game is being ruined by the referees, or how the league is rigged, but at the end of the day the league’s biggest problem is crisis managing the high maintenance egos of its athletes.
A perfect example of this is soon to be former Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel. Ever since he entered the league in May 2014, Manziel has solely become a publicity nightmare for his team and the NFL in general.
His frowned upon actions began with the inability to move past his college party days, something many fans probably saw as appreciated transparency, but his recent interactions with his girlfriend have confirmed his transformation into the NFL “superstar” ranks.
From Jan 2012 to Sept. 2014 33 NFL players were arrested on charges of domestic violence, battery, assault and murder. This number doesn’t include the cases involving reckless driving under the influence, other “minor” misdemeanors or those able to use their image to move out of the limelight and back into the shadows.
In Johnny Manziel’s case he has never been arrested, but his actions have no doubt warranted that. Not only has he been caught partying more times than Roger Goodell has said he’s going to crack down on the NFL’s violent issues, but he too has recently garnered attention for the alleged violent treatment of his significant other.
Now there is definitely something to be said for those involving themselves with the “thugs” of the NFL. With the noticeable trends of criminal charges over the last four years, one would think people would steer clear except when trying to draft a killer fantasy team, because everyone knows they won’t actually get suspended. But what ever happened to the NFL being the cream of the crop? Clearly it still has some of the best athletes in the world, but growing up I wanted to be in the NFL because I looked up to the players. Now it’s the actions and demeanors of players like Manziel many high school and college coaches use as examples of what not to do.
Ultimately it goes back to the idea of accountability. Commissioner Goodell has acknowledged the problem with comments like “Illegal or irresponsible conduct does more than simply tarnish the offender. It puts innocent people at risk, sullies the reputation of others involved in the game, and undermines public respect and support for the NFL,” but has taken little action.
If anything, NFL players should be held to a higher standard than the rest of society, but it’s quite clear to the players and fans there is somewhat of an immunity that comes with the title of NFL athlete. Therefore, until the NFL stops dealing with these incidents case by case and implements a strong punishment for these actions, the fans will continue to be subject to this violence on and off the field.