I don’t know how many of you caught Terry Bradshaw’s “rant” on Fox about players who lay hands on a woman, but it was pretty epic. If you haven’t seen it yet, you can find it here.
Bradshaw is right. The NFL has no place for people like that in the league. In general, it seems the NFL has collected quite a bit of players that think they can say and do whatever they want with no consequences. These men are labeled “professionals”, yet a lot of them don’t play the part.
Before I go any further, I want to clarify something. This is about players who display a habitual flippant and disrespectful attitude towards the rules and regulations set forth by the NFL, who I might add, is their employer. Nobody is perfect and I for one don’t expect the players to be perfect. As fans though, we should expect a certain level of professionalism.
Now that that has been cleared up, lets talk about the tone that has been set for the league.
Besides the domestic abuse, there are a lot of infractions and rule breaking going on in the NFL. Players are blatantly breaking the substance abuse policy, they’re missing team charter planes (we’re looking at you, Mallett), and not showing up to practice or showing up late. There are players who intentionally try (and sometimes succeed) to injure other players, and those that are not participating in required media appearances. And, while it isn’t a rule per se, players who refuse to play unless they get more money from their respective teams, shows a lack of integrity, in my humble opinion. I get that people think requiring players to make media appearances is a stupid rule, but players sign a contract and accept money knowing what is required of them. Is punishing a player because they violated some rules about the uniform stupid? It probably is, but guess what? It’s a rule! Rules are there for a reason. If players don’t like the rules then they are more than welcome to get a different job. They don’t have to stick around. If they decide to stick around though, then they need to abide by the rules that their employer has set forth. That’s the deal. When you sign a contract, you are signing a legally binding document that specifies how much you are going to get paid over a certain amount of time. If you don’t like the amount, then negotiate at the time of signing, not two years into it after refusing to play. All that does is hurt the team and it’s not ok.
So what’s to blame for all this ridiculousness?
Personally, I believe the tone that has been set forth so far in the NFL is to blame. Goodell is too inconsistent with punishments and has way too much power. It’s not all Goodell though. There are a lot of coaches and owners that are willing to put up with players and their crap, all because they think it will make their team better. That attitude, regardless of talent, doesn’t make anything better. An attitude like that will only poison a team. It’s not rocket science. The NFL needs leaders that are going to convey the message, in action, not just words, that this is in fact a league of integrity and the league demands as such from the players.
I don’t know about any other NFL fans, but I’m tired of seeing the league in the state it’s in. I’m tired of hearing about teammates fighting each other on the sidelines during a game. Or, about a guy getting pulled over after hitting his girlfriend only to find he’s been drinking and driving. I’m just tired of the blatant disregard for not only the rules but for being a decent human being.
Something needs to change and it has to start at the top. So while NFL leadership may think they’re above it all, while they sit in their glass boxes and wear their fancy expensive suits, they’re not and if they want real change in the NFL, it has to start with them.