Aaron Hernandez: Rising NFL Arrest Totals Should Force League To Make Changes

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Aaron Hernandez: Rising NFL Arrest Totals Should Force League To Make Changes
Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

With the incarceration of Aaron Hernandez early Wednesday morning, the total number of NFL player arrests has risen to 31 since the Super Bowl on February 3, 2013. Twenty-seven players have been charged, with some of them receiving multiple arrests for multiple offenses.

Is the league too lenient with their penalties when it comes to player arrests? They must be, because if they weren’t, these incidents likely wouldn’t occur as frequently as they have been.

Whether a player is being arrested for child abuse, drug possession, street racing, soliciting prostitution or even charged with murder, this all needs to come to an end. And it needs to end fast.

A player has been handed a one or two game suspension for a violent tackle/hit in a game. James Harrison of the Cincinnati Bengals received the penalty in 2011 for a hit on Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy. Joe Mays of the Denver Broncos received the same penalty for his hit on Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub. Ndamukong Suh of the Lions was hit with a two game suspension in 2011 for a nasty stomp on Packers lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith.

With all the crime that has been going on off the field, the only players to be hit with suspensions for their respective crimes (aside from the Saints Bounty Scandal) since 2011 are Cedric Benson (three games), Aaron Berry (three games), and Kenny Britt (one game).

Why is it that players are only getting fined, or receiving a similar punishments, for committing a federal offense? It doesn’t make any sense. If the league wants their players to stop committing crimes, they need to start hitting players with harsher penalties on their first offense.

Any arrest should result in a year suspension minimum for what we have seen since February 3. It is practically the only way the league has any chance to stop, if not reduce, the number of arrests happening off the field.

Driving your car under the influence of alcohol is far more dangerous than an illegal hit. Not to lessen the harmful effects of an illegal hit, because it’s extremely dangerous. But when you’re out on the road intoxicated, you’re putting everyone else on the road at risk. The same thing applies to street racing and drug possession.

Being charged with murder is a whole different issue. That person obviously shouldn’t be allowed to play professionally ever again if they are lucky enough to make it out of prison. That is, if they are guilty.

What can a parent possibly say to their young children who idolize these athletes when one of their favorite players is convicted of a crime? How do you tell your kid that they can’t wear their No. 81 Aaron Hernandez New England Patriots jersey anymore when they can hardly grasp the concept of being charged with murder?

The answers to these questions are far too complicated. All I know is that in a perfect world, a parent should never have to be faced with any of these tough tasks. Unfortunately, the world we live in isn’t always rainbows and butterflies.

It’s simply an honor to have the young look up to you. It’s completely out of whack that these athletes are committing crimes that can be avoided.

In the case of Hernandez and his murder charge, it’s a completely different story from the other arrests and should be the icing on the cake for Roger Goodell and his troops to hand down more severe punishments for crime in the NFL.

If Hernandez is guilty of murder, he will likely spend the rest of his days behind bars and never set foot on the field again. Following his release from the Patriots, Hernandez is still guaranteed upwards of $5 million from New England.

Is it just me, or does it sound ridiculous to give someone charged with murder more than $5 million dollars?

Well, the Patriots certainly think so, and according to ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio, the organization will try to fight having to pay Hernandez the remaining guaranteed money from the contract he signed last August.

“The two-front battle relates to the final $3.25 million installment of his $12.5 million signing bonus and guaranteed base salaries for 2013 and 2014.  The guaranteed base salaries total $2.5 million.

“Despite the absence of forfeiture language for the guaranteed salaries, the guarantee applies only to terminations made due to injury, skill (i.e., perceived lack of it), and the salary cap." 

"Because the Patriots cut Hernandez pursuant to paragraph 11 of the standard player contract, which permits termination of employment when the player 'has engaged in personal conduct reasonably judged by Club to adversely affect or reflect on Club,' the guarantee evaporates.”

So, lucky enough for the Patriots, it seems like they will be let off the hook. It’s only fair.

Here is a list of all the arrests since the Super Bowl, with links, courtesy of Tony Manfred of Business Insider as well as folks at the San Diego Union Tribune.

Michael Boley, New York Giants - February 8, 2013: Arrested for child abuse.

Da'Quan Bowers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - February 18, 2013: Arrested for having a gun in his luggage.

Al Netter, San Francisco 49ers - February 22, 2013: Arrested for DUI.

Desmond Bryant, Cleveland Browns - February 24, 2013: Arrested for criminal mischief.

J'Marcus Webb, Chicago Bears - February 24, 2013: Arrested for marijuana possession.

Javarris Lee, Arizona Cardinals - March 7, 2013: Arrested for failing to appear in court.

Quinton Carter, Denver Broncos - March 9, 2013: Arrested for allegedly cheating at craps.

Cody Grimm, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - March 10, 2013 and May 28, 2013: Arrested for public intoxication on two separate occassions.

Evan Rodriguez, Chicago Bears - March 21, 2013 and May 31, 2013: Arrested for resisting an officer.

Trumaine Johnson, St. Louis Rams - March 22, 2013: Arrested for misdemeanor DUI.

Brandon Barden, Tennessee Titans - March 23, 2013: Arrested on suspicion of DUI.

Amari Spivey, Detroit Lions - March 27, 2013: Arrested for third-degree assault.

William Moore, Atlanta Falcons - April 18, 2013: Arrested for simple battery.

Rolando McClain, Baltimore Ravens - April 22, 2013: Arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

Ronnell Lewis, Detroit Lions - April 23, 2013: Arrested for getting in a bar fight.

Quentin Groves, Cleveland Browns - April 24, 2013: Arrested for solicitation.

Cliff Harris, New York Jets - May 2, 2013: Arrested for marijuana possession.

Claude Davis, New York Jets - May 2, 2013: Arrested for marijuana possession.

Daryl Washington, Arizona Cardinals - May 3, 2013: Arrested for aggravated assault.

Armonty Bryant, Cleveland Browns - May 6, 2013: Arrested for DUI.

Titus Young, free agent - May 5, 2013, twice, and May 10, 2013: Arrested on suspicion of DUI, and then arrested again hours later for attempting to steal his own car back from the tow yard. Was also arrested less than a week later for burglary.

Mike Goodson, New York Jets - May 17, 2013: Arrested on drug and gun charges.

Joe Morgan, New Orleans Saints - May 29, 2013: Arrested for DWI.

Pacman Jones, Cincinnati Bengals - June 11, 2013: Arrested on an assault charge.

Jason Peters, Philadelphia Eagles - June 12, 2013: Arrested for street racing. 

Aaron Hernandez, New England Patriots - June 26, 2013: Arrested for murder and five gun-related charges.

Ausar Walcott, Cleveland Browns - June 26, 2013: Arrested for attempted murder.

At the rate players are currently going, there could be over 50 arrests by the time of next season’s opening kick-off on September 5, 2013.

Something needs to change. These athletes are far too gifted to be throwing their lives away by getting into unnecessary trouble.

It is the dream of many young children to play in the NFL when they grow up. To be born with the God-given talent to actually play in the pros is a true blessing. So why is it that so many athletes are throwing it away?

 

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