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The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

The NFL needs to address issues related to player conduct

Ray+Rice+will+likely+never+play+in+the+NFL+again
Ray Rice will likely never play in the NFL again

Most people who pay attention to the news have seen stories of Ray Rice getting caught on video hitting and abusing his fiancé, or allegations of Aaron Hernandez being a ruthless criminal involved in multiple murders and other nefarious activities. Even the potential future Hall-of-Famer Adrian Peterson has been linked to child abuse, and these are just the most famous incidents in the last two years that have come to public knowledge. The NFL has had an off the field conduct crisis that has drawn so much attention away from the product on the field.
In actuality, there have been 46 arrests of NFL players since the start of 2014. The first arrest was on Jan. 1 and the most recent was on Oct. 13. These arrests have varied from domestic abuse to drug possession to driving under the influence.
Obviously, everyone makes mistakes from time to time and players are usually given the benefit of the doubt, meaning they are treated as though this was a one-time incident and it will never happen again. And that can lead to players getting away with negative behavior.
The NFL needs to change the culture that has been growing around the sport in which players are barely held accountable for their behavior. There should be clearly written rules regarding every issue that may arise on and off the field. By implementing new policies that can be easily explained and followed, there wont be any gray areas when rules are broken. The NFL could really begin to change how athletes behave in every level of football competition.
There is inherently a trickle-down effect in football regarding rules and regulations. If the NFL truly wanted to change player conduct they could do that for all of football including the NCAA, high schools, and Pop Warner. 
Not only must the NFL change what they do about poor player conduct, but they should also be proactive and try to teach athletes about being well behaved and how to handle fame.
NFL athletes coming out of college usually are treated like gods at their schools and get away with anything they do. They can break the rules without repercussions as long as they are winning. This mentality is very dangerous for everyone involved with the sport, and many college athletes bring this type of thinking into the pros with them.
For example, Jameis Winston has been involved in seven off-the-field issues in the last two years, ranging from a rape accusation to yelling obscenities in the school cafeteria. And he could very well be the first overall pick in 2015, which is unacceptable.
There needs be a system in place to teach these young athletes about what can happen when they act out (whether it be directly related to the game or not). There have been major steps taken with the rookie symposium, where drafted rookies go to learn all about conduct and wellness. However, this only happens once a year and just the drafted rookies attend. Every team should be hosting group meetings like this regularly to talk about being successful in the league as a team and as role models.
Often people tend to blame the players for their behavior because one must be accountable for their own actions. In reality the league should shoulder more blame.
Many of these athletes come out of rough neighborhoods where the line of right from wrong is often skewed just to survive. Based on this knowledge of rough upbringings, the league should be doing everything it can to help teach the athletes about what is expected behavior rather than just focusing of the dollar signs. The focus of the NFL should not rest solely on winning, there should be an equal focus on creating a culture of respect and correct behavior.
The ultimate goal of the teams is to win and for the owners that means big money. Everyone should see that is in the best interest of the players and the owners to win, but if a player is serving a season-long suspension that can severely hurt their chance of winning which in turn will effect the teams bottom line. For example, Adrian Peterson is suspended from the league and because his crimes were so taboo, Nike has discontinued his jerseys. This means that the Vikings will be without their best running back and that the league will not be making money off of merchandise sales.
Between losing money and fans because of players behaving badly, the NFL should see that they must act quickly and effectively. By implementing classes to teach players how to handle their new lives, as well as encouraging positive behavior, the NFL could halt this behavior. It is imperative for the league to try to rebuild their relationships with fans they have lost and prove that they are willing to go the extra mile to change the culture in the league.
If they can succeed in fixing the current issues in the league the NFL will definitely see a positive correlation between good behavior, winning, and making money. The league has clearly shown that they love wins and money, but now it is time to prove that they love their product and employees. No one wants to see players on the news for doing bad things and no parent wants to have to explain to their kid that they need to find a new role model because the football star they focused on isn’t any hero. It is on the league to lead by example and change the way players behave so everyone involved can be happy and enjoy America’s favorite sport once again.