In the wake of Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor's death, the time has come to question the overall level of safety and security afforded to most players in professional sports today.
No longer is it safe for athletes to flaunt their luxurious lifestyles with abandon. Because, as many sports stars are already finding out, dangerous eyes are watching—and waiting.
NBA players Antoine Walker and Eddy Curry learned this lesson firsthand, after being robbed at gunpoint in their Chicago homes over the summer.
Somewhat surprisingly, neither athletes had any actual professional security. Employing bodyguards seems to be a trend with many athletes today. However some are holding out, one reason for this being that, since many players grew up in rough neighborhoods, they feel as though they could protect themselves without the extra help.
Ben Wallace of the Chicago Bulls explained this fact recently to the Associated Press"
"Most of us came from the street. We feel like we know the street. We feel like we can pretty much protect ourselves. All our lives we've been taking care of ourselves," he said. "Now, it's becoming a situation where things are starting to be a little different. Now, you might need that bodyguard standing beside you, extra security at your house."
That being said, there are some sports organizations that are stepping up to protect their own players from harm.
The Chicago Bulls organization, shortly after the Eddy Curry and Antoine Walker incidents, made a statement by hiring professional security to watch over their players while at home and also sending an official warning to all players to protect themselves.
Similar to the Bulls, the Toronto Raptors hired their own professional security team run by former cop Willis Richardson to watch over players.
Security personnel is by no means cheap, starting at $75,000-per-year and up for a security guard with police experience. However, considering the salaries of pro athletes today, that price tag shouldn’t put a dent in any of their wallets.
Perhaps other sports organizations should take on the responsibility of protecting their players in the same way. That certainly would be the smart thing to do.
The criminals who plot, plan, and prey on these athletes definitely aren’t dumb. On the contrary, they know exactly what they are doing.
It was reported that the criminals who burglarized Sean Taylor’s home also did so eight days prior to the second burglary which ultimately resulted in his death. The first time wasn’t good enough, so they went back for more.
This time, the former University of Miami star would be there and the robbery wouldn’t go as smoothly as planned.
The NFL is also taking notice of this dangerous trend. Each year, the league puts out a 30-page guide to inform players on places and situations to avoid, phone numbers for NFL security, as well as weapons issues.
However, many would say that, in the end, it's up to the players to protect themselves. And rightfully so. The resources are out there, the help is out there, and the onus is on the players to utilize the help that is available to them.
Hopefully, the Sean Taylor tragedy opened some eyes and we’ll see more athletes take security more seriously, monitor their surroundings more closely, and take better steps to protect themselves.