Criminal activity shouldn’t ruin perception of the NFL

Published On June 27, 2013 | By Sarah Kirkpatrick

Since the Super Bowl, 27 NFL players have been arrested.

Twenty-seven. That seems like a lot, doesn’t it?

High-profile arrests this offseason include Michael Boley’s arrest for child abuse in Alabama, Amari Spivey’s third-degree assault charges, Pacman Jones’s arrest for assault in Cincinnati and several DUI arrests. The seemingly high number of arrests manifested itself this past week with the arrests of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez and Cleveland Browns rookie linebacker Ausar Walcott.

Naturally, this is going to make people wonder: what’s wrong the culture of the NFL?

It’s easy to get wrapped up in what seems like the crime-ridden nature of the NFL, but pump the brakes a bit, and look at it on the broad scale of things.

There are 32 NFL teams, and with 53-man rosters, that makes 1,696 players.

27 out of 1,696 players makes roughly one percent.

Yes, there are the few idiots who get arrested for assault or murder, which is unacceptable. But here’s the thing: that one percent does not represent the entire NFL. There’s still 99 percent of the NFL that has it together.

Focus on the 99 percent.

The NFL prides itself on its commitment to service and helping the community. Here’s what the NFL website says:

“Football and community are the twin pillars of the NFL. Whether nationally at the league level, locally at the team level, or individually through the volunteerism and philanthropy of owners, players, coaches and club personnel, there exists a powerful NFL-wide commitment to giving back. This commitment is year-round — there is no offseason to the NFL’s multi-tiered, ongoing work to strengthen America’s communities.”

And you should believe it.

The Play60 campaign encourages children to be active for 60 minutes a day to eliminate childhood obesity. NFL players travel to schools to promote exercise, healthy eating and other healthy lifestyle habits to children. The program teaches children that being healthy can be fun — something that we often forget. The NFL is also partnered with the American Cancer Society. At least once each season, teams wear some element of pink in their uniforms to promote breast cancer awareness. The NFL also runs many youth camps, shows support for the military and troops and promotes helping the environment.

Individual players run their own programs, too. The Jay Cutler Foundation works to improve quality of life for underprivileged children and children with diabetes. The Matthew Hasselbeck Foundation looks to promote quality childhood literacy and education. Peyton Manning’s program, the PeyBack Foundation, also works with youth academic development.

Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman is hosting a celebrity softball game on July 7. Proceeds will go to the Helping A Hero foundation, which supports veterans injured in war. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and quarterback Russell Wilson will coach the two teams, which consist of players such as former Seattle SuperSonics legends Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp, Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals and Seahawks such as Kam Chancellor, Doug Baldwin, Golden Tate, Earl Thomas and Sherman himself. As a testament to Sherman’s sense of humor, Lance Easley, a replacement referee in the Seattle-Green Bay game that concluded with that controversial touchdown call, will umpire the game.

Steven Jackson’s foundation works to promote awareness of cancer and blood disorders. Troy Polamalu works with inner-city youth. Vince Wilfork supports diabetes research.

This doesn’t even begin to list all of the good things the NFL has done.

If a couple grapes in the bunch are bad, but the rest are fresh, are you going to throw out the whole bunch? No.

Use whatever metaphor about fruit you want. Either way, the handful of nitwits does not mean the NFL is bad.

Gandhi said that humanity is an ocean, and if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, it does not make the entire ocean dirty.

The ocean of the NFL is not dirty. The NFL is inherently good. Remember that.

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About The Author

Sarah is a Seattle native studying journalism at Boston University. She covers track and field, cross country and women’s hockey and is Sports Editor at The Daily Free Press, BU’s independent student newspaper. You can follow her on Twitter at @Kirkpatrick_SJ.