After what seems like a concurring of legal issues, most recent the arrest of Aaron Hernandez, linked to the National Football League over recent years, there is a rising sense among NFL followers that teams should be holding their players to a higher standard of overall character. These Infamous cases include former NFL tight end for the New England Patriots, Aaron Hernandez, currently sitting in a Massachusetts prison on charges of murder. Another is the recent arrest of two Denver Broncos executives, director of pro personnel Tom Heckert and director of player personnel Matt Russell, who were booked for driving under the influence of alcohol this last month. There has been a disturbing pattern of irresponsible behavior that imperatively needs to be cleaned up. According to a database from the San Diego Union-Tribune, there have been 40 instances of NFL player arrests since the start of 2013. Unfortunately, the past and current commonality NFL teams share is the prioritizing of talent over all around character in the formation of their rosters. It seems that the NFL franchises, as a whole, need to shift this priority and begin weeding out players with turbulent or violent pasts in order to fix the fast growing image problem they are facing.
It is difficult, however, to create an acceptable standard for players across the board when the individuals responsible, per their job description, to enforce this standard are failing to live up to their own standards. These individuals should be expected to lead with their granted authority and set the example they wish to see duplicated by their players. As a former competitive athlete myself, I can state from first-hand experience that a lack of respect in the player to coach relationship is absolutely not ideal for a successful team dynamic. The monumental amount of young football players across the country who look up to their favorite NFL players as role models should be ample reason enough to advance immediate changes in the type of athlete and overall person the NFL grants the fortune of daunting that fame laden jersey.
Facing legal issues involving drinking, drugs, and violence has quickly diminished the credibility of the league. And while a DUI does not carry the same weight as committing a murder, assaulting a woman, or passing out in a car full of guns and drugs, all of which have been executed by NFL players, all legal offenses still need be looked at and dealt with in a serious manner. With the eyes of a whole nation watching, the vitality of putting a stop to the array of these occurrences has never been more pressing.
Denver Broncos exec, Tom Heckert, released a statement apologizing for his behavior shortly after his arrest stating, “I am extremely disappointed that in my short time with the Broncos I have made such a serious mistake. My actions last month have brought embarrassment to the organization, and I fully understand the consequences that are involved. I am truly sorry and take complete responsibility for this situation. Although I have let many people down, I will learn from this and work toward regaining the trust that I have lost.” Both Russell and Heckert face possible heavy discipline from the team and the league as well as legal consequences. While his apology, we can only put our trust in, seems sincere, this type of issue has happened one too many times now for an apology to be enough. The problem goes much deeper for the NFL and punishment may need to become more severe in order to better prevent future issues. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has stated he wants to stiffen the penalties ranging from fines to suspensions to even banishment from the NFL altogether.