Which NFL Arrests Should Cause the Most Concern for 2012 Season?
The 2012 NFL offseason has unfortunately been filled with one arrest after another.
It seems like each week we're hearing someone else get cuffed and instead of preparing for the upcoming season, providing bail has taken precedence.
Now, include everything from the bounty-gate scandal to the numbers of players who could potentially holdout and this offseason has been rough for pro football fans. Here, we look at the most concerning arrests heading into the 2012 season.
Nick Fairley: DT, Lions
Leon Halip/Getty Images
Twice this offseason has Nick Fairley been arrested and both happened in a rather short time span.
Per FOX TV 10 in Alabama last month:
According to troopers Fairley initially refused to stop for the emergency lights and sirens. When he finally pulled over, troopers said Fairley seemed impaired. The Detroit Lions defensive tackle is facing several charges including DUI, attempting to elude police, and reckless driving.
It's his second arrest in less than two months.
The first arrest came in early April from possession of marijuana, according to FOX TV 10.
With two arrests in one offseason and having gone through a disappointing rookie season in 2011 due to injury, Fairley's pro career has certainly started in the wrong direction. The good news though, is that he has taken responsibility.
In an article by Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press:
Fairley took the initiative to continue his NFL education off the field when attended the AFC rookie symposium in Cleveland two weeks ago.
Now that is a good step in the correct direction for Fairley, but remaining down the path is what he must do next. There's definitely pressure on him to succeed as the No. 11 pick in the 2011 NFL draft, so the 2012 season will be a telling sign as to whether Fairley has matured on and off the field.
Aldon Smith: LB, 49ers
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
All the way back in late January of 2012 49ers' rookie linebacker Aldon Smith was arrested for a DUI, according to CBS 4 in Miami.
Fast forward to June of 2012 and Smith was reportedly stabbed at a party. According to Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle:
Five months after being arrested for driving under the influence in Miami Beach, Smith suffered what the team described as minor injuries early Saturday morning at a party east of San Jose where two people were shot and another was stabbed. The Santa Clara County sheriff’s office did not identify the victims, but Smith was the stabbing victim, according to multiple reports.
It's not so much that Smith didn't get arrested here as it is another off the field incident. A DUI alone is a major concern, but getting stabbed must be taken just as seriously. Now combine this with a DUI in the same offseason and Smith has to get back on the correct path.
After all, he was one of San Francisco's most reliable defenders in 2011 with 14 sacks and two forced fumbles. The 'Niners need that kind of production again in 2012 to remain stellar on defense, and to stay atop the NFC West.
As for now though, working with Smith to develop him as a professional on and off the field are steps that must be pursued.
Leroy Hill: LB, Seahawks
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Leroy Hill has been one of the better defenders for the Seattle Seahawks despite 2011 having been his first full season.
According to a report provided by the Atlanta Police department, Hill was arrested for marijuana possession early Saturday morning.
The arrest is the latest off-the-field incident for the veteran linebacker, who’s been arrested three times in the past three years.
Interestingly enough, Hill has still managed to perform well on the field with four seasons of 80-plus tackles dating back to 2006 and 18.5 career sacks. Last year Hill recorded 89 tackles and four sacks after missing the entire 2010 season to injury.
As one of the better defenders for Seattle, Hill's incidents away from the field raise numerous red flags. Although he'll be turning just 30 years old this season, the Seahawks can't afford to have that extra baggage to compete in the NFC West.
With Chris Clemons' contract situation still not solved and rookie Bruce Irvin needing time to develop as a player, Hill has to get his act together away from the game. Otherwise, he won't be around much longer.
Justin Blackmon: WR, Jaguars
Rick Dole/Getty Images
As if Justin Blackmon had enough pressure on him by being the Jaguars' first round selection at No. 5 overall, the top rookie receiver in the draft was arrested last month for a DUI.
Former Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon was arrested on a complaint of aggravated DUI early Sunday in Stillwater after registering a blood-alcohol level of .24, which is three times the legal limit.
On a more accountable note however, Blackmon did take responsibility a few days later. In an article by the Sporting News via Cleveland.com, Blackmon stated:
"I want to apologize to Gene (Smith), (owner Shad) Khan, Coach Mularkey, the whole organization and teammates for my bad judgment over the weekend," Blackmon said, per Frenette. "I want to let people know that's not who I am and that's not who I am going to be."
Nevertheless, Blackmon's incident cannot be overlooked and if anything, it must be taken even more seriously since he's a 22-year-old rookie. Jacksonville also desperately needs the great skill set Blackmon brings to the offense, as the Jags ranked dead last in passing last season.
That said, the first course of action is to get Blackmon back on the right track and then keep him there. The kid has far too much talent to fail, and the Jaguars' offense can't afford to have a non-threatening passing attack, either.
Dion Lewis: RB, Eagles
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
In the most recent of incidents of NFL players who have gotten arrested in 2012, Eagles' running back Dion Lewis is next on the list.
According to Bryan Fitzgerald of the Albany Times-Union:
Dion Lewis was arrested over the weekend on felony charges after police said he and his older brother nearly knocked a downtown hotel's glass doors off their hinges and pulled a fire alarm.
In better news though, Lewis did apologize about the incident according to ESPN.
Lewis' incident is also one of the more concerning because although he's a backup to LeSean McCoy, NFL offenses have relied on two-back systems quite often. Lewis was also only a rookie in 2011, so it wasn't surprising to see him receive limited playing time.
With McCoy being the No. 1 back, Lewis was the expected change of pace ball-carrier and third-down back. McCoy may be an every down player, but presenting Lewis in a two-back set does force a defense to adjust mid-game.
Lewis is only 21-years-old, so this arrest does point toward him still needing to develop maturity. Looking at all the potential and talent on the Eagles, Lewis is a part of that and Philadelphia needs him to keep the offense dynamic in a tough division.
Follow John Rozum on Twitter.