All-American honors, first round draft pick, five-year 50 plus million dollar contract, impressive first year, face of the franchise, vehicle crash, drunken driving arrest.
That’s thee timeline that describes a number of NFL players’ careers as they quickly plummet from superstar to criminal. In each of the last five years NFL players have been accused or charged with crimes and reckless behavior that question their character and morals, events that seemed to have started originally from Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s motorcycle crash in 2006.
The theme continued on Sept. 21 when New York Jets wide receiver Braylon Edwards was arrested in Manhattan for driving drunk at 5:15 in the morning. Edwards was originally pulled over because officers believed the windows in his SUV were overly tinted. The fourth year wide-out’s blood alcohol level was .16 at the time he was pulled over, double the legal limit, and he was accompanied by four others according to ESPN.com.
This incident came two days after the Jets defeated the New England Patriots 28-14, a game in which Edwards directed an in-your-face taunt to Patriots cornerback Darius Butler after a second quarter touchdown to tie the score at 7-7.
The behavior that some NFL players exhibit, not just on the field, but off the field as well has tumbled in the area of class and Edward’s latest antics have put an exclamation mark on this fact for everyone. Everybody makes mistakes, but when they are repeated over and over again they become more of a bad habit than an honest mishap.
Look at Big Ben Roethlisberger. He was a stud quarterback and the big man on campus at Miami University of Ohio. He was drafted 11th overall by the Steelers in 2004. He has won two Super Bowls. There are many shades of gray behind Roethlisberger’s successes though. In June of 2006 Roethlisberger crashed his motorcycle into another vehicle at an intersection in Pittsburgh. He was not wearing a helmet and didn’t have a permit, but luckily came away with only a broken jaw and nose. Not long after that a local Pittsburgh TV station reportedly saw Roethlisberger riding his motorcycle without a helmet on, an event that influenced them to video tape him, which led to Roethlisberger giving the cameraman the finger according to a Sports Illustrated article titled “The Hangover: Roethlisberger,” written last May. Come on Ben. We all know you’re better than that. Or are you?
The star quarterback was then accused of assaulting a 20-year-old female college student in the restroom of a Milledgeville, Ga. bar, and was originally suspended for six games for violating the league’s personal-conduct policy by Commissioner Roger Goodell according to the SI article. The suspension was eventually dropped to four games at the beginning of this season. The article also mentioned that Big Ben, on multiple occasions, didn’t pay cover charges to a Pittsburgh club and left without paying his tab at a pub that many Steelers flock to after home games, leaving with an egotistical statement something along the lines of “hey, do you know who I am?” That’s not someone I want playing for my city’s team.
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Donte Stallworth, who is known to be close friends with Edwards, also joins the club of pro football players who have a larger than life mentality. On March 14, Stallworth was driving drunk in Miami and collided with a man that was crossing the street, killing the man instantly.
The core group of NFL players that think they are greater than life itself need to get a reality check. When you play for an NFL team, which I believe is a privilege in the first place much like any other professional sport, you are representing not only yourself, but your teammates, your coaches, management, and the public, including the loyal fans in the city you play in. When a player starts embarrassing these people and the NFL with their antics, the career they worked so hard for is toast and their respect goes out the window.
Players like Edwards who have done multiple iffy things in their career still don’t get it.
“I don’t understand the black eye that this would put on the organization,” he told reporters in the locker room the day after his arrest.
That’ll be the day when players realize that it’s all about the team, getting the job done to win football games, and more importantly, being a good person.
But I guess we’re in a new era of the NFL and that’s just old fashion thinking, right?