Enough with what’s wrong with the NFL. Let’s fix it.
Tweet me your ideas @doug987fm .
There are two issues in regards to the future of arrested athletes: players in the NFL and players being drafted into the NFL.
The NFL already has an advisory group for all college football players to use which evaluates their NFL potential and estimates an athlete’s draft status. The NFL is also in charge of which players get invited to the NFL combine to show their skills off in the hopes of improving their draft stock. Let’s instruct this committee to place a character score on each player.
The character score would not be subjective. The score and formula would be completely public so every fan knows the risk. This would also force the team to be open about why they are selecting a specific player since the public would know the character risk involved with the selection.
The score is objective because it would follow a simple formula. Obviously, this is all to be negotiated, but let’s say a player gets one point for every time he is arrested, two points for every time he is convicted of a misdemeanor and four points for a felony. Additional points would be “earned” for the nature of the crime. Obviously, I’ll go to the extreme on anything to do with murder. There would be high point values for rape/sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse. Lower point values would be attributed with DUIs, drugs and still lower for a bar fight.
Players would then have their points compared to the rest of their draft class. If a team drafts the player with the highest score, that team assumes the risk of bringing the player into the league. If that player is arrested, he’s immediately placed on the commissioner’s new “paid leave” list while he goes through legal due process, but the team cannot replace him on the roster. If convicted of a misdemeanor, he’s suspended for the year without pay. If that player is convicted of a felony, he’s banned from the NFL for life and the team that drafted him loses a first-round pick.
The character score would hold both player and drafting team accountable. Of course, this brings up some “what-if” questions which would need to be vetted through before implementing, but the character score creates a template for all incoming athletes to truly understand they’ve already cashed in their “hall pass” on life. If playing in the NFL is truly a privilege and not a right, prove it. The NFL would still be a great opportunity for a second chance on life for some of these players but not a third and fourth chance (remember Lawrence Phillips).
The same can be said for current players. With every arrest, a player’s right to the benefit of the doubt within the league is restricted, again based on objective points and not subjective points-of-view. If a man with a clean record is arrested for certain crimes, he can continue to play while the case is handled through the court system. However, a player like Aldon Smith, who has racked up an arrest history, does not get due process within the sport. He gets suspended with pay at the moment of the arrest and can be reinstated based on the trial’s outcome.
Crime is not football’s problem. Crime is a societal problem. There is a much higher percentage of non-NFL playing American men getting arrested and convicted of violence against women than men who are in the NFL. This is not the NFL’s issue alone. However, the NFL’s leadership has hidden from all responsibility in the last few weeks. It is wrong to put certain players in taxpayer-funded stadiums just in the name of winning hours or days after the player was arrested for throwing their pregnant girlfriend onto a couch of loaded guns.
Since the NFL has fumbled so bad this month, they should be the first to raise the bar.