There’s an old saying often used by NFL coaches and team personnel: “Nothing good ever happens after midnight.”
After this bleary-eyed NFL offseason, they might have to change the saying to, “Nothing good happens after, well, ever. Just stay inside.”
Oh, It’s been an ugly few months for the league and its players, all right.
Though the money’s flowing and the excitement for the start of another season is bubbling over this offseason, there’s been just as much action on the police blotter as there has been on the practice field.
Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant was charged with misdemeanor family violence after an alleged incident with his mother late Monday night. Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch nearly hit two cars before being arrested for investigation of DUI a few days earlier.
Both incidents, of course, came on the heels of Detroit Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley being arrested twice in two months, for suspicion of marijuana possession and later for suspicion of DUI and trying to elude police. New York Giants offensive lineman David Diehl, Lions defensive back Aaron Berry and Chicago Bears defensive back Brandon Meriweather have all been busted for suspicion of driving under the influence. Denver Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil was charged with suspicion of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon while hanging in Miami, and Lions running back Mikel LeShoure has been cited twice for marijuana possession during the offseason.
Then there’s Dion Lewis, the diminutive Philadelphia Eagles scat back, who faces a felony charge of falsely reporting a fire and a misdemeanor charge of reckless endangerment
The list of offseason arrests reads like a dictionary. From A to Z, guys are finding themselves in terrible situations. Stars (Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson), unknowns (Vikings fullback Jerome Felton) and rookies (Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Justin Blackmon) have all been in the news for all the wrong reasons. It’s a who’s who of horrendous headlines and bottom-line ticker fodder.
No fewer than 24 different NFL players have been arrested this offseason.
If it seems as if that’s more than usual, well, it is. No NFL offseason has been as littered with criminal activity as this one. As teams govern their players and discipline with fines and suspensions, it’s difficult not to think about commissioner Roger Goodell and his heavy hand.
Last month, the league touted its rookie symposium, sending out news releases with details and quotes from the multiday, convention-style extravaganza in Aurora, Ohio. Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones spoke to the league’s first-year players about his misdeeds and foul behavior during the early years of his career, and the group took a trip to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton.
That’s all well and good, but the crime wave of 2012 is hardly a rookie thing, and it appears as though the league’s most seasoned players might need a talking to each offseason, as well. League veterans, Fathead-worthy stars, and guys who got big contracts less than a week earlier (Lynch) have all seen police sirens in the past few weeks.
And, yet, Goodell has been utterly silent on all non-Saints related disciplinary matters this offseason.
Giants head coach Tom Coughlin concluded the team’s June minicamp with about a three-minute speech. Rarely a man of many words, the oldest coach in the league huddled his team together and said the following: “Make sure that you are thinking in everything that you do; everything that you say, every place that you go. Be safe, be smart, and let’s make sure that we are all able to get together at the end of July.’’
Three minutes. But the Super Bowl champs seemed to get the message. Or at least, some of the veterans did.
Justin Tuck, the team’s captain and star defensive end, told reporters in the locker room shortly thereafter, “Especially young guys don’t understand what this next six weeks is about.
“It’s about building off of what we did in this minicamp and OTAs and make sure we don’t have any lapses.’’
Lapses, there have been aplenty.
And, yet, for all the negative press, horrible headlines and Rusty Hardin appearances on just about every radio station on the dial, Goodell — usually a no-nonsense disciplinarian — has remained quiet in regards to the repulsive rash of player arrests this offseason.
During the most recent collective bargaining agreement negotiations, Goodell was hell-bent on not giving up any of his unilateral power to discipline players for both on- and off-field infractions.
“I’m not going to hand off the brand and the reputation of the NFL to somebody who is not associated with the NFL. I promise you that,” he said last summer during the CBA talks’ most tenuous times. “That is one of the No. 1 jobs as a commissioner, in my opinion.”
That one was nonnegotiable, something he demanded. He’d get to play the role of judge, jury and executioner on all things discipline-related.
But Goodell hasn’t played judge, jury or executioner on any of these dubious black-eye incidents? He’s been invisible, really. Twenty-seven arrests. And not a peep. Perhaps the commissioner is letting the court of law (and court of public opinion) play themselves out instead of acting prematurely. Or, perhaps Goodell’s remaining quiet and out of the crosshairs of all things off the field because he’s been busy laying the hammer down on the New Orleans Saints’ on-the-field issues.
Either way, it’s curious. Did Bountygate somehow soften the commish?
Has the subtle media backlash in response to how the league handled the Bountygate case behind closed doors, without publicly releasing the evidence, caused the commissioner to take a back seat on commenting on this nightmarish offseason of arrests and foul behavior?
Training camps open for 32 franchises in about week.
That’s enough time for another NFL star or two get into trouble with the law. And way too much time for the commissioner to stay silent on the subject.