In case you missed it in the last 24 hours, a back-up linebacker for the Ravens, Tony Fein, was arrested last night for assaulting a police officer in downtown Baltimore. Fein was arrested after allegedly shoving a police officer to the ground during an investigation of his party at a bar near the Inner Harbor (read more here).
While Fein and his agent are disputing the claims and calling the arrest a case of racial profiling, the Ravens are finding themselves in a precarious situation.
It’s been five years since the last major incident involving a Ravens player and the police. When Jamal Lewis was arrested and jailed in 2004 in connection with a drug deal in 2000, the Ravens were already earning a reputation as one of the league’s most troubled teams. But since then, the Ravens have maintained a relatively low-profile and the front office has done a good job of keeping the Ravens out of the headlines.
Fein was not likely to make the final roster this season anyway, and this arrest (whether it sticks or not) is not clearly not going to help his cause. Regardless, his arrest serves as a strong reminder that GM Ozzie Newsome needs to stay on top of his game to keep his team’s image in good light.
For all the talk of experience and veteran leadership, the Ravens, like most NFL teams, are made up of 20-somethings with more fame and fortune than they know how to handle. Team rules and expectations need to be explicit and should extend beyond the team’s clubhouse and hotels and into the lives of players everyday. Like in any other career, in the NFL, your actions away from the team affect your status with the team.
League commissioner Roger Goodell has made it his mission to clean up the league and, whether you agree with his authoritarian style or not, has largely succeeded. And the Ravens hardly need any more attention from the commissioner’s office than they tend to get on a regular basis.
Hopefully, Fein’s arrest and eventual release (which will be publicized as completely separate from this incident) will be used to remind Ravens players just how easy it is to get caught in a bad situation, and an example of how not to deal with it. They call themselves men on the field; they should act like men off the field.