Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Crimes and Misdemeanors of NFL Stars
by Robert A. Waters

The 2016-17 National Football League training camps kicked off a couple of days ago just as a published study attempted to portray most players as non-violent teddy bears. The author stated that “only” 27% percent of the crimes committed by players are violent.  Listed below are just a few recent crimes, misdemeanors, and indiscretions committed by NFL stars.

Rolando McClain has been in the league for six years and been in trouble almost since day one.  Chosen number 8 in the 2010 draft, McClain, who currently plays with America's team, the Dallas Cowboys, has been arrested three times. In addition, last year he was suspended for four games because of substance abuse violations. This year, he re-offended and will sit out ten games for the same reason. Despite these offenses, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones signed McClain to a contract that gives him 40 million dollars in guaranteed money. Now Jones is squirming because he sees that money going down the drain. Due to an alleged addiction to “purple drank,” a mixture of Sprite, cough syrup and codeine, it's unlikely that McClain will play a single game this season. In fact, some pundits are comparing him to one of the NFL's biggest busts, Jamarcus Russell. The former Raiders quarterback signed a guaranteed contract worth millions and was released after bloating up to 300 pounds amid allegations of purple drank addiction.

As if the Cleveland Browns didn't have enough problems with perennial bad boy Johnny Manziel, now running back Isaiah Crowell has been forced to apologize for posting an online picture of a Jihadi John look-alike slitting the throat of a kneeling white police officer. The caption read: “They give polices (sic) all types of weapons and they choose to kill us...” Later, a lawyer-vetted apology and retraction appeared, and the offensive picture was removed. As training camp began, Crowell was said to have been welcomed back into the good graces of Cleveland fans. (Too bad he's not playing for the Philadelphia Eagles, whose partisans have been known to boo Santa Clause.) While Crowell's action was not violent and not a crime, it was despicable and he should be severely punished by the Browns and the NFL.

Montee Ball, who played for the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots, was recently arrested on a non-violent charge of “bail-jumping.” Having previously been charged with domestic battery, he went to a bar and began drinking. According to a police report, this violated his bond, resulting in his arrest. In the original incident, police reported that after he and his girlfriend argued at a Madison, Wisconsin motel, Ball picked her up and threw her across the room. The woman sustained a bruise to the back of her head and a cut leg that required stitches. Soon after this incident, the Patriots released Ball.

Legal difficulties seem to follow former San Francisco 49er Ray McDonald around like the plague. The eight year veteran was first arrested in 2010 on charges of drunk driving. In 2014, he was arrested for domestic violence. His then-girlfriend, however, refused to cooperate with police and the charges were dropped. His troubles finally caused the 49ers to release him—the general manager of the 49ers said McDonald's release was due to a “pattern of poor behavior.” He quickly caught on with the Chicago Bears. But, true to form, in 2015, McDonald was arrested in San Jose, California for “misdemeanor domestic violence and child endangerment.” Police stated that McDonald “physically assaulted the victim while she was holding a baby.” Three days later, he was rearrested for violating a restraining order against the woman. In addition to these problems, in yet another case he has been charged with “rape by intoxication,” meaning that he is accused of sexually assaulting a woman while she was drunk. In any other profession, these arrests and controversies would spell the end of a career. But the NFL is a parallel universe with its own rules, and, like a cat with nine lives, Ray McDonald could once again take the field as his adoring fans cheer him on to victory.

A talented player, New York Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson is quickly weeding himself out of football. Although he made Rookie of the Year in 2013 and the Pro Bowl in 2014, he was suspended for four games in 2015 for failing a drug test after testing positive for marijuana. But then in July, 2015, Richardson was charged with resisting arrest along with a multitude of traffic offenses. St. Louis police stated that he was involved in a road race while driving his expensive Bentley. When police attempted to pull him over, he fled. Driving up to 143 miles per hour and blowing though a red light, Richardson finally stopped. Cops found a gun and smelled marijuana in the car. They also found three passengers, including a 12-year-old boy. Richardson plea bargained the case down to resisting arrest, speeding, and running a red light. He received two years of probation and 100 hours of community service. (I wonder what you or I would get for those offenses.) Speaking of his alleged marijuana addiction, Richardson told reporters that he will now stay off the drug because he risks losing lots of money if he continues toking and smoking.

And so it goes in the NFL. Our heroes commit crimes and misdemeanors with few consequences. And we settle back in front of the tube and cheer them on.

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