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"National Felons League" - Uncovering the crime epidemic in the NFL

Editor's Pick 03 Jul 2013, 02:53 IST

Last week two NFL players, Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez and Browns rookie Ausar Walcott, made the national news when they were arrested within twenty four hours of each other for serious felonies. Hernandez was charged with first degree murder for a gang-related execution style shooting, while Walcott ended up in handcuffs on an attempted murder charge after punching a man in the head so hard that he ended up in the ICU. The two incidents created a media frenzy around the NFL, and out of nowhere League officials were pushed towards a conversation they really don’t want to have; there is a serious crime problem in the National Football League.

The Patriots’ Aaron Hernandez is led to the courthouse in handcuffs after being arrested on suspicion of 1st degree murder and 5 gun charges

The two arrests alone would easily have been enough to initiate a long, uncomfortable talk about crime in the NFL. But even beyond Hernandez and Walcott’s much publicised charges, a more in depth look at the NFL’s crime statistics paints a disturbing picture.

A number of media outlets, including Yahoo! Sports and CBS Sports, gave the NFL a huge headache last week when they revealed that a staggering 27 players have been arrested since the Superbowl in February, while a more recent report by USA Today claims that number has risen to 31. That’s a ratio of over 6 arrests per month, more than once a week, with crimes ranging from murder to misdemeanour DUI.

Here are just a few of those 31 arrests, to give you a flavour of the problem the NFL is facing:

Aaron Hernandez – 1st degree murder and 5 gun charges

Ausar Walcott – Attempted Murder

Titus Young Jnr – Various offences, including Burglary and DUI, spanning three arrests

Jason Peters – Street Racing and leading police on a high-speed chase

Adam Jones – Assault

Armonti Bryant – Drink Driving

Daryl Washington – Aggravated assault

Quentin Groves  - Solicitation charges from a prostitution sting operation

Desmond Bryant – Criminal Mischief

Unfortunately, the string of arrests this year can’t even be waved off as an anomaly. In 2012, 40 players were arrested, including Josh Brent, who was charged with intoxication manslaughter in December, after a car accident that he caused led to the death of teammate Jerry Brown. In fact, before this off-season’s arrests, there had been a total of 489 arrests of NFL players for offenses more serious than speeding (and lesser traffic violations) in the last decade. This number is taken from the San Diego Union Tribune’s arrests database.

Among those arrests are a troubling number of cases involving violence against women. Chad Ochocinco was arrested after head-butting his new bride after an altercation; Des Bryant was arrested for assaulting his own mother; Adam “Pacman” Jones allegedly punched a girl outside a nightclub. The NFL is also the not-so-proud home for some of the more infamous criminal cases involving sportsmen in history, from the chillingly violent to the mind-numbingly stupid.

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