In The NFL Silence is Golden

Aaron Hernandez police car

When the Ravens consider new players for their roster, whether they are free agents or they are players emerging from the college ranks via the NFL Draft, character, whether good or bad is always an issue.

And during this time of year, character or lack thereof, always seems to rear its sometimes-ugly head.

The stretch of 4-5 weeks between the last set of organized team activities and the first reporting day of training camp can leave head coaches and front office personnel a tad on the edgy side. Might they wake up to find one of their own guys listed on the police blotter?

Last July NFL ballers spent some time in the pokey. Consider these arrests during the first 3 weeks in July 2012 according to Pro Football Talk:


  • 7/20/2012: Titans WR Kenny Britt is arrested for DUI.
  • 7/19/2012: Chiefs CB Donald Washington is arrested for possession of marijuana, driving under the influence of drugs, and speeding.
  • 7/16/2012: Cowboys WR Dez Bryant is arrested for family violence.
  • 7/14/2012: Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch is arrested for DUI.
  • 7/14/2012: Broncos DE Elvis Dumervil is arrested for aggravated assault.
  • 7/13/2012: Jaguars DE Odrick Ray is arrested for outstanding traffic tickets.
  • 7/10/2012: Rams DE Robert Quinn is arrested for DUI.
  • 7/8/2012: Eagles RB Dion Lewis is arrested for felony false reporting of a fire and misdemeanor reckless endangerment.
  • 7/7/2012: Rams RB Isaiah Pead is arrested for marijuana possession.
  • 7/7/2012: Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is arrested for resisting arrest.
  • 7/3/2012: Browns DT Kiante Tripp is arrested on burglary charges.
  • 7/2/2012: Buccaneers CB Eric Wright is arrested for DUI.

Why can’t these guys stay out of trouble?

Don’t they know what’s at stake for their careers? For their teams?

Are they really that stupid?

These of course are the knee-jerk reactions of many fans who absorb these kinds of headlines never having walked in the shoes of these athletes.

So are such criticisms fair?

Imagine for a moment that you were an athlete, coddled since your days as an adolescent. You cruise through high school aided in part by a system that rewards superior athleticism and a community that exults your achievements on the field – so much so that they guide you on cruise control through academia to make you and them look a little more inviting at the next level.

You get to the next level and now your skill set can be converted into dollars for the university. The coddling intensifies and the perks expand. You are Teflon!

You move on to the NFL and the money comes in, you buy everything. The guys you hung with back in high school and college come calling. Perhaps they had your back during those days on some level and now you feel obligated to pay back.

And so you do.

One party leads to the next and the more you are exposed to the after midnight crowd the greater are your chances for a fall from grace.

OTA’s keep you busy. You are under the team’s watchful eye. You almost are thankful for them because indirectly it suppresses the peer pressure.

But now it’s late June and your training camp reporting date isn’t for another 4-5 weeks. You are told to stay in shape, take your mind off football as much as you can and prepare your mind, body and soul for the grind known as the NFL Season.

Enter temptation…

Young athletes loaded with ambition, opportunistic “friends”, testosterone and fat wallets are asked to relax, to chill. It’s a collision course averted only by the depth of your character.

So all the questioning the Ravens do during the combines and player visits prior to the draft; all of the connectivity to other coaches and scouts who assess player development after the draft; all of the analysis of varying personality types and how they interact together; all of the influence of locker room leaders; all of the scrutiny and background checks to learn how players have dealt with adversity and the decisions they made.

It all comes to a head during the next few weeks.

And for those coaches who hope for the best, silence is golden.

9 Raves on “In The NFL Silence is Golden

  1. Josh on said:

    While it boggles my mind that these players cannot stay out of trouble for FIVE FREAKIN’ WEEKS, the reasons why are clear: they have too much money and too much time on their hands. They get bored, antsy, however you want to label it. Even though it was way before my time, I remember hearing stories of NFL players needing a second job during the offseason to help make ends meet. I doubt there was much law breaking happening back then, because the players had something to keep themselves busy. Today’s NFL players either do one of two things: stay home and play Madden Football all day or hit the clubs. Too many are choosing the latter.

  2. CB on said:

    If you follow the tweets of these new NFL players you would wonder how some passed high school and wonder how some of them will ever survive with a bank roll that big and a mentality so small.

  3. JerryB on said:

    As I’ve stated elsewhere, some athletes seem to be stuck on….stupid! And, you just can’t fix……STUPID!

  4. cornell dorsey on said:

    there must be some kind of special disease that developes within young black athletes,whereas they cant handle being a millionare for playing a freaking game.i know what you are thinking,white athletes get arrested to.true,but 90% are black.i just dont get it.listening to someone who feels the way i do would tend to wonder why be so opinionated.well or some this is it,football i mean.we all know how we feel when watching the home team,or favorite player.there is the unity you see,the power that we see,the living vicariously through it all.i think when you hear about all the trouble these youngsters are having,you feel as if your time has been violated somehow.i sometimes think that character should overshoot talent.its to much o win by any means necessary.with this kind of crap thats going on with these youngsters today,madden might be the only realistic football outlet there is.that woulld be a shame

  5. g money on said:

    Tony, thanks for this article. I think many of the points you made are very valid. These kids come out of college and are given a ton of money. Their fans adore them, then they start to feel entitled, even invincible. Not everyone is capable of being humble in that set of circumstances. They are only human. I don’t know if the NFL sets these kids up with some type of counseling, but I think that is something that is necessary.

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