Ever wonder why multi-milloinaire, celebrity, beloved, respected, and cherished NFL players choose to tackle the game of crime which leaves fans confused and bewildered?
Take a look back over the last 10 years and take notice of some of the major stars that have been involved in major crimes…Ray Lewis, Rae Caruth, Pacman Jones, Michael Vick and Plaxico Burress just to name a few. Then conisder the numerous arrests for DUI’s, drug possession, spousal abuse, and other miscellaneous crimes.
What is it that tempts these NFL warriors to throw their reputation, livlihood and money into harms way with such questionable decisions at an increasing rate of activity?
I have compiled a factual list of the top ten reasons we see so many of these stars in so much trouble more and more every day…
1. Nature versus Nurture.
Athletes share similar biological and psychological traits (nature) such as agression, leaderhsip, perfectionism, extroversion, physical ability, size, strength, speed and skill. These traits give way to large egos, feelings of invinsibility, and superiority complexes. Combine that with the environments (nurture) that some of these athletes grow up in such as unstable family life, low socio-economic standards, low parent or family involvement, bad peer groups and lack of everyday resources which equal higher risk factors of childhood delinquency. This delinquency sometimes carries over into adulthood, and as the bright lights and big money are thrown into the situation as adults, many athletes are conditioned and tempted to act in ways that may not be in step with societal norms and beliefs. Thus, criminal activity can be easy to come by. as an NFL star
2. The Posse.
Poor peer selection as a child may bleed over into adulthood which can foster a real chance that logic is thrown to the way side and replaced by criminal behavior. No matter how much money and celebrity one has, the associations NFL players keep strongly contribute to being sucked into bad situations and thus bad decisions. These decisions can lead to such things as being involved with drugs, guns, fights, and alcohol related crimes either directly or indirectly.
3. Generation of Crime.
It is likely that you see more and more NFL players becoming involved in criminal behavior as the latest generations of children are continually coming from rough family situations which results in lower levels of family involvement and attention to guidance and discipline. Family units in general are being torn apart by the numerous distractions such as the internet, television, video games and this again can contribute to lack of supervision when it comes to peer groups and attitude towards responsibility. Finally, as more and more parents have to work one and sometimes two jobs, this gives way to lower levels of instruction and leadership within the home which can contribute to deinquent behavior as a child and young adult. The percentages increase exponentially with the fact that a child will engage in adult deviant behavior the earler, often and more serious the crimes they commit as children. So it may be a situation that recent generations of children are growing up more and more prone to not following rules, laws and more likely to engage in criminal activity. Certainly, a particular segment of the young NFL players coming out of college will fall into these scenarios.
4. Mo Money, Mo Problems.
As the contracts and salaries become larger and larger each year in the NFL, the more risk there is for fun and games to go wrong. As NFL players have more resources and more people they associate with, the more likely they are going to brush up with instances of criminal elements. These associations can lead to the "wrong place, wrong time" syndrome and either directly or indirectly lead to an increase in criminal activity. Furthermore, another side effect of money and criminal actions is on display when athlete get into trouble, and have immediate access to the resorces that hire the best lawyers to eliminate real legal troubles… and it does not hurt to be treated a little better than the average criminal due to the celebrity status of NFL athletes. Then as athletes go back into these questionable situations with the wrong associations of people, the vicious cycle of criminal activity replays itself over and over again.
5. Street Cred.
As athletes get consumed into their own egos, reputations and identities, they feel the pressure to live up to their peer’s expectations. Thus, you see athletes carrying guns, driving fast, consuming plenty of alcohol, and getting boastful in their words and actions. This combination is not a good one for NFL players. Basically, you see these players getting arrested at 2 AM for bar fights, drunken brawls and unfortunately the shooting of other people. This constant craving for the respect, reputation and ego satisfaction through bad peer groups and dangerous activities gives athletes a false sense of security and a false sense of legal reality which again gives fans something else to scratch their heads on.
6. Easy Targets.
It is inevitable that human nature will get the best of a few of the average joes who do not have the money, the possessions, the adulation and the respect that the few members of the NFL population have. Throw these folks into the same environment as the athletes, and you have a combustible bomb waiting to explode. As athletes put themselves into situations such as those in bars, late night restaraunts and public partys and then sprinkle in some big attitudes, alcohol and drugs and the next thing you know athletes are drawn into fights, shootings, and even murders whether it is their fault or not. It is just too easy for NFL players to be targets of other people, much less when they increase the liklihood of a bad situation occurring by making some quesionalbe decisions in public.
7. Speaking of drugs and alcohol.
With the money and peers some NFL players have, it is not a huge leap to assume alcohol and drugs of all kinds make their way into the athlete’s circle of activities. All you have to do is look at the average arrest and conviction rates of violent crimes, as well as other less violent crimes, and the common denominator is drug and alcohol use or even abuse. For the athlete, it may not be an everyday occurrence, but again you are seeing more and more issues with addiction and NFL players than in years past. Most of the environments athletes put themselves in have easy access to alcohol and drugs and when their personalities, attitudes and peers become a problem, the end result is direct or indirect links to criminal activity and behavior.
8. Girls, Girls, Girls.
As a man, athlete and celebrity with money, an NFL Player can and will have women around the majority of the time. Giving in to some of those women’s requests can bring about potentially dangerous situations as they may be involved with drugs and alcohol and perhaps other criminal intentions. They may want to take the athletes to very public places opening up the athlete to altercations and arguments. Not to mention the fact that the athletes may be caught in situations real or fabricated that lead to sexual assault charges by some of their women acquaintances. This is not to say that women are the problem, the problem is that athletes are men and sometimes lose their sense of logic when women are showing interest.
9. The "One Bad Apple Spoils The Bunch" Conditioning of America.
This is an actual psychological principle that basically states that when people see something or someone as bad, or if they are affected negatively by a situation, or if they are schocked to the point of disgust, these relatively fewer occuring negative instances tends to be exaggerated, sterotyped and applied to all of the members of a particular group. Even though not all of those members of the group have done anything wrong, everyone of classified as a troublemaker, criminal or the group as a whole gets a bad reputation (i.e., all of those NFL players are involved in some kind of bad activities and they have no respect for the law). Even though it seems as though more and more NFL players are becoming invovled in criminal activity, it is still a relatively smaller percentage related to the enitre population of NFL players. That being said, the instances of NFL players that are being arrested or involved in such deviant behavior shocks us, disgusts us and makes us angry and dissapointed to the point that we generalize those instances to the larger percentage of NFL players. We tend to believe there are more players becoming involved in criminal activity than actually are involved in those circumstances. We then begin to sterotype a larger portion of NFL players as criminal offenders and deviants within society.
10. Media Blitz..
Which came first the chicken or the egg? Are there more crimes to report on by the media, or are the small number of instances of crimes portrayed as a larger series of many more instances of crimes by NFL Players as a result of the media? As with all of the bad things we see on the news, hear on the radio read on the internet or view on YouTube, it may be a byproduct of 24 hour media attention. To be fair, there indeed has been an overall, general increase in the number of NFL players engaging in criminal activity, but it appears to be a larger issue than is deserved. The intense 24/7 media focuses on these types of stories because of ratings and public interest and they run with that story ad noseum unitl all we hear, see and think is that NFL players do nothing but become some of society’s most notorious criminals. We have to take a step back and look at the big picture of NFL players involved in criminal activity and place it in its proper context without personal or media bias. However, if we think we see more and more NFL players becoming criminals it may just be an optical illusion.
The lesson here is that there are legitimate factors that can explain, attribute or contribute to the proven increase in the number of NFL players breaking the law. The other lesson, is that there are both personal and external, individual and societal forces that skew our perception of NFL players becoming involved in criminal activity. There needs to be more research and work done to lower the level of NFL employed criminals and to properly educate fans and society at large as to the issues and the reality of the situation in our perception of the problem as well.