Entry 377: NFL Weak, Too

Welcome to my recap of Week Two of the 2014-2015 NFL Season. Here are my Top Three Things You Need to Know:

  1. Some games were played.
  2. Many players limped off the field with various injuries.
  3. Teams that play their home games in New Jersey suck.

Of course, the big news in the NFL this week was all the unnecessary roughness that took place off the field. Three players didn’t suit up due to domestic abuse charges, and the commissioner of the league is under intense scrutiny for the way he has handled these cases.

There are two huge questions surrounding this issue:

  1. Is domestic abuse really on the rise among NFL players, or has it always been a riceproblem and has just recently come to light due to higher awareness and more closed circuit cameras in elevators?
  2. What do you do if Adriane Peterson, Ray Rice or Greg Hardy is on your fantasy league team?

I will now address neither of those questions.

However, I will say that, while watching Sunday’s Jets and Giants games (itself a form of abuse, although self-inflicted), it struck me that there seems to be a definite increase in the number of personal foul and pass interference calls. Apparently, you can now only hit an opposing player in a small area of his body, roughly between the knees and shoulders, otherwise known as “the strike zone.” You can’t hit anyone with your helmet or on theirs. You can’t hit the quarterback if he doesn’t have the ball, even if he just threw it a nanosecond ago while you were in mid-air. And evidently, the secondary cannot touch a receiver for any reason, even if it’s just a homoerotic pat on the ass.

All of this, of course, is a reaction to the NFL’s other scandal, which is that some of its former players end up with severe brain damage, loss of motor control and reduced ability to speak coherently, which, considering how intelligible many of them are during their playing days, is really a problem.

But I can’t help but wonder if the focus on limiting the hitting on the field has contributed to an increase in the hitting off the field. If you can’t take out your aggression on the 350-pound lineman, do you take it out on your 50 pound 4-year-old? If you can’t use your tree-trunk sized arm to clothesline a tight end, do you use it to take a swing at your wife?

I could prove this theory by looking at the number of contact penalties (as opposed to namby-pamby penalties like “encroachment” or “too many men on the field”) over, say, the last 10 years and compare it to the number of penalties in the 10 years before that, adjusting for inflation. Then I could see if there was a correlation between that and the number of violent crimes committed by NFL players during the same period.

I could do that, but it seems like an awful lot of work.

Thanks to USA Today, however, we do know that, in this century, 730 NFL players have marshawn-lynch-mugshot[1]been arrested for serious crimes, although not all of them were violent crimes, (some were DUIs or sex related, like paying $15 to an undercover cop for oral sex).

Eighty-five of those arrests were for domestic violence. Many others were for non-domestic violence, like going all Quentin Tarantino in a strip club. There were five or six murders and manslaughters in there, too.

Of course, we don’t know how many incidents go unreported, or if this represents an increase over the previous period, or even if that number is higher than if you took a similar sampling from any other industry. There are about 1,700 active players in the NFL at any given time. I don’t know how many different players have been on rosters since 2000, but let’s just take this year. There have been 11 NFL arrests for violent crimes (domestic violence, assault, battery) in 2014. Do you think you’d get a comparable number among 1,700 dentists? Teamsters?

How about NBA players?

Hmm. Well, according to Arrest Nation.com, a real website that does nothing but list arrests of athletes (the existence of which, by itself, says something, although I’m not sure what), there have been 46 NFL “arrests, charges and citations” for all causes in 2014 and 14 in the NBA over the same period. But, remember, there are only 360 guys playing in the NBA at any given time, so that’s a 3.88 arrest rate. The arrest rate for the NFL over the same period? 2.70.

Yes, that’s right. The NBA has more arrests per player than the NFL. It’s even worse than kiddthat, because half of those NBA arrests were for violent crimes while fewer than a quarter of the NFL arrests were. And consider that the stats are for 2014, from January to August, a period during which the NBA players were actually playing much of the time, whereas the NFL (except for training camps and exhibition games) was not.

Just for comparison, the arrest rate for Major League Baseball is 0.4.

I have no idea what to make of these unusual sports statistics.  Maybe the baseball stats are so much lower because there’s less time between games to get into trouble.  Surely the culture of aggression in the NFL is a factor, but then why are the arrests higher in the NBA (and don’t say because the players are higher, um, taller)?  And where does the NHL, with its arrest rate of only 0.33, fit in?

Perhaps all those Canadians and other foreigners get arrested in their own countries.

Regardless of comparisons, the NFL has added not one, not two, but three experts to advise the league on domestic violence.  I don’t see why they would need more than one…a single, concussion-free individual to say “Don’t do that!”

See you soon.

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