The NFL has an epidemic on their hands.
It seems that everyday, fans can turn on ESPN or take a look at their favorite website (SB Nation) and see a new NFL player in the headlines. Rarely does it pertain to them donating to a charity. Nor is it about them improving their skills during the offseason.
More and more, we see players' names running across the ticker for being arrested. It seems that almost every team has had at least one player on their roster in handcuffs at some point in time this summer. Whether it's for driving under the influence, possessing drugs or even assaulting one's own mother, professional athletes running into trouble with the law has become a serious issue.
According to Brad Evans from Yahoo! Sports, 27 players (if you count the most recent arrest of the Chiefs' Donald Washington) have now been arrested since the New York Giants won the Super Bowl in February. There are no bounds to the players being arrested, either. Young players, veteran players, white players, African-American players, it doesn't matter.
The Lions are apparently trying to win some sort of sweepstakes or get their names entered into the Guinness Book of World Records (which, coincidentally, is named after the brewery). They have had six players thrown in jail this offseason due to DUI's, assaults, or what have you.
We can debate all day long as to why these players feel this is an acceptable thing to do. Is it because they are that bored in between offseason programs? Do they feel that they are above the law due to their wealth and/or status? Who knows?
We can also argue as to what actions the NFL should take in order to help curb these incidences. Should the suspend players for a set amount of games depending on the crime and the frequency in which they occur? Should they dock them pay? Is it in their rights to ban them from the league?
One thing is for sure, though. The Arizona Cardinals and their athletes have managed to stay out of the fray.
No Cardinals players have been arrested this season (Clark Haggans' DUI occurred in 2011 and was a strange circumstance). Yes, the team does have some players that have a history of arrests. Most recently, the Cards drafted wide receiver Michael Floyd in the first round of the NFL Draft. He has three DUI's on his record.
But the thing is, that did not bother them. They know that they have created an environment where that sort of childish nonsense is not accepted.
It starts at the top with the head coach, Ken Whisenhunt. Whiz, since arriving in Arizona in 2007, has always been a coach that doesn't put up with tomfoolery. If a player were to receive multiple infractions with the law, he would not hesitate to cut them, regardless of their role with the team. He holds his players accountable.
He is not the only one that does that, either. The Cardinals have made sure to build a core of players that can not only play the game of football, but do so professionally as well. Larry Fitzgerald, Darnell Dockett, Adrian Wilson, Paris Lenon; all of these players are veterans that realize that in order to win football games, the work starts off the field.
The greatest example of this was when Larry Fitzgerald recently called out the young rookie, Michael Floyd, on Twitter. He claimed he was charging him with a DWI "Don't want it" for not showing up to the offseason workouts. Now, Larry has known Floyd for many years, but this type of public humiliation may have been just what the doctor ordered. Floyd showed up the next day to workout.
The vets mentor the young players that come in and teach them that not only will the owners and coaches not put up with any absurd actions, but their teammates will not deal with it either. This is a philosophy that the team has been working to build for years, as they know it cannot be made overnight. Careful drafting along with a structured regimen have helped to eschew the off-field mishaps.
Other teams expect that throwing a player onto a professional football team will keep them from getting into trouble. But if the coaches, owners, players and even the media don't hold them to a higher standard, what is to stop them from acting recklessly? That is why other professional teams, such as the Lions, find themselves on the other end of the spectrum from the Cardinals.
Instead of making silly mistakes, the Cards are focusing on more important matters, such as bettering themselves at their craft or helping the less fortunate. It's time for this to be the curve that is set and followed throughout the league. It's time to put an end to all of the nonsense.