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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Pro Athletes and Personal Conduct

As I was reading's article regarding the closing arguments in the Aaron Hernandez murder trial, it got me thinking about the NFL's personal conduct policy. More specifically, what standard should players be held to with respect to off-the-field conduct? And where is the line in which athletes should no longer be allowed to pursue a professional football career?

For starters, let's use the Aaron Hernandez case as an example. Even if he is found not guilty of murdering Odin Lloyd, he still awaits trial for the murder of two other individuals in 2012 (For the record, I maintain that Hernandez did murder Lloyd. His defense that he saw his two friends committing the murder, but was too shaken to do anything, is weak at best. I mean, you're really telling me that Hernandez, upon seeing two people he knew killing the someone he was more than acquaintances with, wouldn't even call 911?) If he were to somehow beat that indictment as well, I guess he would have a case to return to the NFL. Not that I would want him to play for my Browns. Of course, should he be convicted on any of the charges I think this point would be moot, as might be spending the remainder of his life in prison.

What about the case of Ray Rice then, or any player that commits domestic violence? Again, I am not certain I would want Rice playing for my team, but as long as he serves his sentence according to the law, and satisfies his punishment/rehabilitation with regard to the NFL, who am I to say he can't return to play? But taking it a step further, should Adrian Peterson be allowed to return to the NFL? I understand the need to discipline your kid. I should also state I am not (nor have ever been) a parent. But I also understand that his kid was four when Adrian punished him with a switch, leaving him with very visible bruises. From my experience being around my best friend's kid (who isn't much older, btw), someone that old barely even knows right from wrong. So there are many people who would say what Peterson did was more than excessive.

Of course, I also feel that NFL players should be held to the same standard as society as large. So, in the case of Peterson or Rice, if their actions would result in them being blacklisted from a lesser profession, why should there be a double standard just because they are professional athletes? In many instances an ordinary citizen who commits a felony might have a hard time getting a job in his previous profession. Just because these guys can run or jump faster than most people should not make them special.

Ultimately, however, this issue falls on the league and commissioner Roger Goodell to formulate a consistent policy on the issue. It doesn't necessarily mean we have to agree with his decision (or indecision, for that matter). Of course we also don't have to go to the games, either.

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