Category Archives: National Football League

The Early Trials of Ben McAdoo

by Brendan Ripley-Barasch

It is widely known that players and coaches of New York’s professional sports teams are subject to scrutiny that might not exist for smaller market clubs. If he wasn’t aware of this before, Ben McAdoo, Head Coach of the New York Giants, now certainly understands the magnitude of operating in the epicenter of professional sports.

As the Giants near the midway point of the NFL season, they sport a record of 4-3 which falls a bit short of the hefty expectations that were placed on them heading into the year. This team, which missed the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year in 2015, underwent a massive and expensive rebuild in the off-season. The Giants handed out over $200 million in free agency in an attempt to revamp an atrocious defense that plagued them last year and then followed suit in the 2016 NFL Draft when they selected cornerback Eli Apple with the 10th overall pick. However, the changes didn’t just come in terms of players but also with coaching. Following the disappointing 2015 season, two-time Super Bowl winning Head Coach, Tom Coughlin, decided to step down, leading to the eventual promotion of Ben McAdoo from Offensive Coordinator to Head Coach for the first time in his career. Obviously there were going to be a few growing pains stemming from the changes  made, but no one could have predicted the problems that would surround the Giants in the first few weeks of the 2016 season. To expect a rookie Head Coach to handle these problems with ease would be an unreasonable assumption.

Odell Beckham Jr., who has shined in his first two seasons with New York, has been a topic of discussion among the media so far this year. While the Giants were able to get off to a 2-0 start to begin the season, disappointment ensued when they relinquished a late lead to the NFC East rival Washington Redskins in a 29-27 loss. Beckham had the camera turned on him for the most part of the game due to the highly anticipated match up between him and CB Josh Norman. Beckham was able to have a very productive day, catching seven passes for a combined 121 yards and drawing multiple penalties. While he was able to do well on the field, what he did off of it was a different story. Following a stalled possession, Beckham took out his frustration on the sideline when he struck a kicking net that responded by bouncing back and hitting the receiver in the face. This humorous highlight was then played on loop in the following week while reporters discussed the player’s struggles to handle his emotions. In their next game against the Vikings, Odell once again had the spotlight on him when he was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct on a day where nothing went his way. Following these outbursts, Odell released a statement where he was quoted as saying, “I’m not having fun anymore,” when talking about playing football.

Odell seemed to have changed his ways in the next couple weeks where he manged to keep his emotions in check and make fun of his altercation with the kicking net on multiple occasions. But in a game against the Baltimore Ravens, after scoring a game winning touchdown to cap off a career day which included a staggering 222 yards receiving, he cost his team when he removed his helmet on the field leading to an unsportsmanlike penalty. These sideline tantrums have turned into an unnecessary distraction for a team with playoff aspirations and have also put Beckham’s teammates and coaches in a bad spot. McAdoo and the rest of the Giants’ players have voiced their support for the player but emphasized that these kinds of actions will not be tolerated anymore.

The other big dilemma that McAdoo has had to deal with in his first year as Head Coach involved Giants’ kicker, Josh Brown, who was accused of abusing his wife. After the team signed Brown to a two-year $4 million extension in April, the player was suspended for the first game of the season stemming from an investigation conducted by the NFL into his arrest in May of 2015. Although he was never charged in the matter, Brown certainly broke the NFL’s domestic violence policy but somehow only received a one game suspension. This minor penalty does not demonstrate what Commissioner Roger Goodell has stated would be the base-line punishment for any player involved in domestic violence. After the Ray Rice fiasco in 2014, Goodell announced that anyone involved in these kind of cases would receive a minimum six game suspension. But rather than focusing on how the league failed to uphold this policy, New York media looked at McAdoo as having mishandled the entire ordeal and questioned why a player like this was able to stay on the roster.

Things changed when new documents were released last week by the King County Sheriff Office that showed Brown admitting that he had abused his wife, Molly Brown, on multiple occasions. This caused the NFL to re-open their investigation into the case and the New York Giants organization did what they should have done in the first place when they officially cut Brown.

Following the release of Josh Brown, Giants President and Chief Executive Officer, John Mara, admitted that him and the rest of the team’s executives’ actions in accordance to the situation were “misguided.”  He stated that the information that was made available to them never showed any irrefutable evidence that Brown had been guilty of committing this crime but after the release of these new documents they concluded that it was time to part ways with the player.

With all of this said, is it reasonable to place the blame on Ben McAdoo for not handling this situation properly? No, but that is the reality of being in charge of a professional team in the biggest market in sports. As previously stated, the team was never given all the information about Brown’s case and when they finally were, they cut the player. Sadly, even though they did the right thing, they will still be criticized for not doing it soon enough.

Being a rookie Head Coach in the NFL is obviously no simple task, but add in the fact that that McAdoo has had to deal with a variety of sensitive issues while also considering the ferocious nature of NY media, it is almost impossible to operate under the radar. For now it seems like this issues have been put in the past, OBJ is well aware of the fact that he simply cannot continue to act the way he has been and Josh Brown is officially not the Giants responsibility anymore. Although, this doesn’t mean McAdoo can relax yet. He still has the duty of putting a competitive team on the field every Sunday, he has to figure out how to incorporate new formations and plays into an offense that has been exposed as being one-dimensional, and overall he has to be a leader for a team that is currently missing one. So far in 2016, the NFC East has shown it might be the best division in all of football and now that these problems seem to be in the past, the New York Giants can finally just focus on winning games.

 

 

 

 

 

Reflections on Laremy Tunsil’s Historic Draft Slide

by Brendan Ripley-Barasch

The 2016 NFL Draft was held this past Thursday night in Chicago and there were some surprises to say the least. A couple of things that may have shocked some fans included linebacker Myles Jack falling out of the first-round, CB Eli Apple being drafted at No. 10 by the New York Giants, and the mind-boggling amount of former Ohio State Buckeyes taken in the first-round. But one thing that took everyone by surprise was how far offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil fell.

                                                                                    Image via http://www.clarionledger.com

A dramatic series of events led to Tunsil falling all the way to the Miami Dolphins at No. 13. This player, who was once seen as the number one overall prospect in the draft, saw his downfall begin moments before the draft. Exactly thirteen minutes before the start of the draft, a video was posted to Laremy’s verified Twitter account that showed the former Ole Miss Rebel smoking what is assumed to be weed from a gas-mask bong. After a couple of minutes the video was taken down and the account was then deactivated. The video may have only been up for a few minutes but the damage was done and once again the power of social media was demonstrated.

Even after Tunsil had been selected by the Dolphins the mayhem continued. After the pick, an image was uploaded to Laremy’s Instagram account that showed text messages supposedly between Ole Miss Assistant Athletic Director John Miller and Tunsil. The conversation consisted of Tunsil seeking money from Miller to pay his mother’s rent and electric bills. Last season at Ole Miss, Laremy served a seven-game suspension stemming from similar accusations where he was found guilty of accepting improper benefits.

When it was all over, Laremy was still drafted in the top twenty but his fall cost him millions of dollars. In an article from ESPN titled Video kept Ravens from drafting Laremy Tunsil with No. 6 overall pick, writer Jamison Hensley discusses how the video impacted the Baltimore Ravens evaluation of Tunsil. The author writes, “The Baltimore Ravens would have taken Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil with the No. 6 overall pick were it not for the gas mask video that surfaced.” Even though he only talks about one team, it is probably fair to say the twelve other teams that passed on the prospect were thinking similarly. In the same article, Hensley writes something that ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported, “According to Schefter, Tunsil lost $7 million by falling seven spots in the draft.” Not only did this social media blunder tarnish the player’s image, but it also caused him to lose a lot of money.

It was very hard to watch this young man’s life just unravel right in front of us on one of the biggest stages in professional sports. But this is just the latest case of athletes suffering at the hands of social media. Recently it has been reported that the Dolphins believe Tunsil’s former financial adviser is who hacked into these accounts and posted the image and video. During the draft, ESPN analyst Jon Gruden gave his opinion on the issue, “We live in a glass house these days. … There’s a lot of money and people’s futures at stake. I hope this doesn’t come back to haunt Tunsil. Hopefully it’s a learning experience for him. He’s gotta clean this up if he wants to play in this league.” With this statement, Gruden echoes mine and surely many others opinions.

Following the draft, Laremy Tunsil admitted to the media that he had in fact taken money from an Ole Miss coach and that the screenshots were real. It is unclear whether the NCAA had already been aware of these actions since they had already suspended the player last season for the same reason. Now that Tunsil had admitted such a thing to an audience of millions, the NCAA will surely continue their investigation with the university.

This event is one of the most publicized examples of an athlete being punished for things that had been posted to their social media accounts. Obviously it is unfortunate for Tunsil to fall all the way to No. 13, but he is saying all the right things starting with accepting full responsibility for his actions. The player has a bright future ahead of him in the NFL but this will follow him for many years to come. It cannot be emphasized enough how big of a role social media plays in forming a person’s image and it is crucial for athletes as well as regular people to realize how to properly use these platforms. It is my hope that other athletes learn from this and don’t make the same mistake Tunsil did.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trouble in Philly: Sam Bradford Wants Out

by Brendan Ripley-Barasch

The City of Philadelphia has had a tough go with their professional sports teams in recent years. Most notably, the Eagles have consistently under performed despite having elite talent like LeSean McCoy, Demarco Murray and DeSean Jackson at some point over the past four years. The Phillies have quickly plummeted to the bottom of the MLB and how could we forget the 76ers who have been one of the worst teams in NBA history for the past few seasons. The struggles continued when Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford reportedly requested a trade early Monday morning.

                                                                           Image via http://www.philly.com

The former number one overall draft pick is most likely seeking a trade because of the move his current team made a few days ago. Last Thursday the Philadelphia Eagles agreed to send the no. 8, no. 77, and no. 100 picks in this year’s draft along with a first-round pick in 2017 and 2018 second-round pick to the Cleveland Browns to receive the second overall pick in this year’s draft as well as a 2017 fourth-round pick. After the trade was officially completed, Eagles representatives announced that they planned on taking a QB with the second overall pick. It is interesting that Philly decided to trade away so many picks just so they could draft another signal-caller with the second selection. It is only interesting because this past off-season the team signed Bradford to a two-year deal which included $22 million in guaranteed money while also signing former Kansas City quarterback Chase Daniel to a three-year contract where he is guaranteed $12 million.

It is obvious that the Eagles are trying to solidify what is widely seen as the most important position in football and the trade shows just how desperate they were in doing so. Bradford is upset with the move and he has every right to, why would he tolerate being seen as a stop-gap player?

Earlier in the week, reports were that even after the trade, Sam did not wish to be traded and wanted to prove to the organization that he was “the guy.” But now the complete opposite is being said, the next couple days will prove which report is correct. For now we’re going to pretend that Bradford actually does want to be traded. There are a few teams who are in the market for an experienced quarterback. To name a few, the Denver Broncosand San Francisco 49ers.  With the departure of both Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler, Denver is in dire need of a player who can lead the team. In San Francisco’s case, the organization has not shown the most trust in Colin Kaepernick and might be interested in making a deal.

Even with his reported request for a trade, Eagles management is supporting Bradford. Executive Vice President of Football Operations Howie Roseman was quoted as saying, “to reiterate our support for Sam Bradford and go back to our statements last week — that Sam is our starting quarterback.” This statement shows that the team is trying to downplay the drama surrounding their quarterback situation, and they are saying the right things.

Even if the former Oklahoma Sooner did request a trade, the media has no room to criticize him. Just like any other player, Bradford wants respect. And if the team does actually use the 2nd pick on a QB, which will most likely be Carson Wentz, why is it wrong for them to plan for the future? The organization is attempting to change the approach they have had the past few seasons, instead of trying to win now, they are figuring out how to win in the future and that means they must have a quarterback who can do that. It would not be the worst idea to take Wentz and let him sit for a couple of seasons allowing him to adjust to a pro style NFL offense. But even if Wentz isn’t thrown into the fire his rookie year, he still has a lot of pressure on him. Philadelphia sacrificed a lot to get this pick and they are counting on Wentz or any other QB they get to make it worth it.

The 2016 NFL Draft will be held in Chicago on April 28th and Eagles faithful as well as media will be waiting patiently to see what their team does. If Philly sticks to their plan and takes a QB, it will take a couple seasons to see who got the best of the trade because now the Cleveland Browns are seen as the clear winners and that is a first.

 

 

Media Dialogues about ‘Race’ in Super Bowl 50

Dr. Nancy E. Spencer
February 7, 2016
The time between January 24 and February 7, 2016 may seem like “the longest two weeks of the NFL season”  (Rosenthal, 2016, para. 1). However, during those two weeks, the media manages to construct story lines that generate plenty of hype. The lead-up to Super Bowl 50 was no exception. On Thursday, January 28, Cam Newton, Quarterback of the Carolina Panthers kick-started one conversation with his response to a question about why he had taken so much heat for his celebratory behavior on the field. Newton responded by saying, “I’m an African-American quarterback that scares people because they haven’t seen nothing that they can compare me to” (Samuel, 2016, para. 4). Cam’s statements fanned the controversy that had begun earlier in the season. Most of the criticism stemmed from his style of celebration that consisted of dabbing; some parents characterized his dances as “arrogant struts” and “pelvic thrusts” (Samuel, 2016, para. 9).
Despite teaching in a Sport Management program, I must confess that I did not watch a lot of football this season. Being a Browns’ fan does that to you. But I did catch some of the play-offs and saw what has become a tradition whenever Newton scores a touchdown. In this case, he awarded it to a young girl in the stands. I was so enamored by the spontaneous expression on her face that I took the photo below and posted it on my new Instagram account:
IMG_20160117_133933
Later that week, I heard Cam’s statement followed by ensuing conversations on various media outlets. On First Take, Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless navigated the thorny terrain of racial dialogue that can become contentious. In their conversation, Skip carefully outlined his ‘credentials’ as if to suggest that he should in no way be construed as ‘racist’ in what he was about to say. In fact, he took so much time emphasizing that he was not a racist that I cannot remember what he said about Cam’s statement.
Several days before Cam made the statement (above), Stephen A. Smith speculated that Newton would be the “villain” of Super Bowl 50 and that most of America would “be rooting for the fairy tale ending for Peyton Manning” (Miller, 2016, para. 5). Smith emphasized that his prediction had nothing to do with race. Rather, he suggested that it was just about people wanting a happy ending for Peyton; and besides, he added, “people are annoyed with Cam and the Superman pose and all this other stuff” (Miller, 2016, para. 10).
After watching countless conversations about Cam Newton that tried to convince it was not about race, how are we to have a fruitful dialogue? Ironically, (or maybe not), the Daily Show (now featuring Trevor Noah) did one of the best takes on how we could understand the conversation started by Cam Newton. Maybe Comedy Central is where we need to convene our much-needed dialogue about race!
References
Miller, R. (2016, January 25). Will Cam Newton become Super Bowl 50 villain? Stephen A. Smith will ‘bet check’ it happens. NJ.com. Retrieved from http://www.nj.com/super-bowl/index.ssf/2016/01/is_cam_newton_super_bowl_50_villain_stephen_a_smith_will_bet_check_it_happens.html
Rosenthal, G. (2016, January 25). Seven big storylines heading into Super Bowl 50. NFL.com. Retrieved from http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000628271/article/seven-big-storylines-heading-into-super-bowl-50
Samuel, E. (2016, January 28). Cam Newton: ‘I’m an African-American QB that scares people.’ The Daily News. Retrieved from http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/cam-newton-african-american-qb-scares-people-article-1.2511614

Reactions to Tom Coughlin’s resignation

by Brendan Ripley-Barasch

As new head coach, Ben McAdoo sits in his office, evaluating the state of the New York Giants organization and Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. prepare for the Pro Bowl later tonight. One man is confined to his couch getting ready to watch his former superstars perform, Tom Coughlin.

After 12 years as the head guy in New York, on Jan. 4, Tom Coughlin decided to step down from the position. Coughlin leaves with an overall record of 102-90 and two Super Bowl rings while also having had the opportunity to coach multiple elite players such as Michael Strahan, Eli Manning and Odell Beckham. During his tenure as Head Coach, something fans could always count on from the team was that the players were going to run out of that tunnel and play as hard as they could for Tom. It was hard to say that was true the past three years. Maybe that is what led to his resignation, or was it that the team had not made the playoffs since 2011? Or was his age becoming an issue? At 69 years old, Coughlin was the oldest coach in football. Any one of these reasons could have been the deciding factor for him to move on from the New York Football Giants.

At first it wasn’t clear whether Coughlin had stepped down under his own power, or the Giants had actually let him go, but out of respect told him he could tell the media he was resigning. Adam Schefter of ESPN cleared the air when he said Coughlin, “decided to step down before Giants asked if he wanted to stay.” Most New York media outlets running stories about Coughlin chose to describe the resignation as him stepping down or moving on from the organization; its easy to see the amount of respect that not only the fans have but also the media because instead of saying he resigned or was forced out they chose to use softer words to describe it.

During this past season, especially towards the end, there were pretty much two points of view on Tom Coughlin and his future with the Giants among fans and the media. One was that it was time to start fresh, after four years of missing the playoffs and having a losing record three of those years, most people were ready for a change. Many media sources wrote about Coughlin in negative but respectful ways, citing his multiple failed attempts at going for it on fourth down rather than kicking the field goal and more notably about how Coughlin didn’t remove Odell Beckham Jr. from the game when he and Carolina Panthers cornerback, Josh Norman, had multiple altercations during the game including trash talk, shoving and pushing, and even throwing punches at each other. The other view people had on the Tom Coughlin issue was that fans should stay loyal and the Giants organization should keep offering him one-year deals until he was ready to call it quits. Some people might have felt this way because of the two Super Bowls he brought to New York or because he brought the Giants back to elite status. The thing that may have swayed many loyal fans into having the first point of view was probably when the Giants were absolutely dismantled on Monday Night Football by the Minnesota Vikings, losing 49-17. When the team was pushing for the playoffs and playing in a huge Monday night game, they came out just flat and no one seemed like they wanted to be there or even cared about the outcome. With those circumstances, the team should have come out and played with a fire under them, but instead they rolled over and allowed the Vikings to do whatever they wanted.

All of the wins and losses, Super Bowls, and division titles are now just a thing of the past. All we can do now is look back at Tom Coughlin’s legacy with the Giants and it’s probably a safe bet to say that most people will remember him in a very positive way. He goes down as one of the best coaches in New York Giants’ history and we will all miss seeing him and his rosy cheeks on the sideline every Sunday.

Greg Hardy is Back in the NFL But Has He Changed?

Bernadette Compton is a PhD student (with an emphasis on sport) in American Cultural Studies at BGSU. She graduated with a major in Psychology and a minor in Sociology from the University of Central Arkansas. She received her Master’s in Sport Psychology from Miami University (OH) where she first became interested in sports media writing. She spends most of her time watching, reading and writing about, and discussing any and all sports. Specifically, she is interested in the intersections of gender, sexuality, race, and sports. Her main sport writer influence is Kate Fagan.

By Bernadette Compton

If you haven’t heard, Greg Hardy is back playing football, after serving a four game suspension for his relation to a 2014 domestic violence case. Back in 2014, Hardy was found guilty of assaulting his girlfriend, but his conviction was overturned when she failed to cooperate with the case. Hardy, former player for the Carolina Panthers, left Carolina as a free agent, and the Cowboys signed him to a one year deal this March. In the week leading up to his first game in over a year, Hardy met with the media for the first time since coming back from suspension (Moore, 2015). Here is part of that interview: http://www.dallascowboys.com/video/2015/10/06/greg-hardy-breaks-his-silence-after-suspension.

There are a few comments that many people addressed, especially with his recent domestic violence case. When asked if he was ready to start playing again, he responded with “I hope I come out guns blazing, I’m full of excitement and full of juice. I’m ready to go” (Martin, 2015, para. 4). While “guns blazing” is a common phrase used in sport, it is questionable for Hardy to use since he had thrown his girlfriend on a couch with at least four semi-automatic rifles (Moore, 2015). He also deflected a question about if he had remorse for his actions, and instead focused on how sorry he felt that he couldn’t be there for the team. At the end of the interview (not included in the above video), Hardy had this to say about heading to New England, “I love seeing Tom Brady, he’s cool as crap…. Have you seen his wife? I hope she comes to the game. I hope her sister comes to the game, all her friends come to the game. One of my favorite games of the year, guys” (Martin, 2015, para. 6). And when a reporter mentions Blake Bortles’ wife’s attractiveness, Hardy responded “Is she? This kind of information is important. That’s how I select my Pro Bowls” (Martin, 2015, para. 8).

Katie Nolan, host of a Fox Sports show called Garbage Time, voiced her concerns with Hardy’s comments, especially with those mentioned above. Here is Katie Nolan:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGrL39Q99sE

While many people agreed with her comments and how it seemed Hardy still shows no remorse for his previous action, many people disagreed with her. But instead of just stating their points, they instead were sexist towards Nolan, which is difficult to take when the main conversation with Hardy is his previous domestic violence case.

For example, some comments on Facebook found it appropriate to say she belongs in the kitchen and not talking about sports or sport related issues. This is a common occurrence in comments towards female sport announcers and journalists.

Another felt the need to make a sexual reference about Nolan, the below comment being the cleanest comment regarding this reference.

And finally, Greg Hardy found it necessary to retweet the following tweet “Gonna buy his jersey now because of the wife comments @OverlordKraken go boys!!”

There were many other comments and tweets on Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook involving the same sort of language towards Nolan, even using extreme vulgar language regarding her looks and what she should be doing instead of talking sports. These comments and tweets came from both women and men.

This language towards female sport announcers and journalists is very common. Jane McManus, a sport journalist for espnW, also received comments about being in the kitchen when her article on Greg Hardy was published (McManus, 2015).

In the MLB, Jessica Mendoza, the first female announcer for an MLB postseason game, also received remarks about being on air (Rogers, 2015):

In a recent Sports Illustrated article on women in sport and social media, this language towards women is very real (Dicaro, 2015): http://www.si.com/cauldron/2015/09/27/twitter-threats-vile-remarks-women-sports-journalists?utm_source=The+Daily+Rally&utm_campaign=39a87457a0-The_Daily_Rally_20150929&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8529cab2df-39a87457a0-128054941

Lack of respect towards women in sport and social media is still an issue. Women are sexualized, viewed as objects, and constantly receiving comments using vulgar language. We see this not only in comments on articles, but in magazines, commercials, and discussions on blogs about the typical “beautiful” female athlete. So while women have made great strides in sports, there is still a long way to go to gain respect as a sport fan and journalist.

References

Dicaro, J. (2015, October 1). Threats. Vitriol. Hate. Ugly truth about women in sports and social media. Sport Illustrated. Retrieved from http://www.si.com/cauldron/2015/09/27/twitter-threats-vile-remarks-women-sports-journalists?utm_source=The+Daily+Rally&utm_campaign=39a87457a0-The_Daily_Rally_20150929&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8529cab2df-39a87457a0-128054941

Martin, J. (2015, October 8). No apologies from Greg Hardy as he talks about Tom Brady’s wife. CNN. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/08/us/nfl-greg-hardy-returns/

McManus. J. (2015, October 9). Greg Hardy’s comments make a mockery of NFL change efforts. espnW.com. Retrieved from http://espn.go.com/espnw/news-commentary/article/13838832/greg-hardy-comments-make-mockery-nfl-change-efforts

Moore, D. (2015, October 7). Suspension over, Cowboys DE Greg Hardy meets the media: Here’s what we found out. The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved from http://www.dallasnews.com/sports/dallas-cowboys/headlines/20151006-moore-suspension-over-cowboys-de-greg-hardy-meets-the-media-here-s-what-we-found-out.ece

Rogers, K. (2015, October 7). Criticized for being a ‘woman announcer,’ Jessica Mendoza shines anyway. New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/08/sports/criticized-for-being-a-woman-announcer-jessica-mendoza-shines-anyway.html?_r=0

Media Reacts: NFL’s First Month in 6 Years With No Arrests

by Nicholas Muhl

The first month of the 2015 NFL regular season ended this past weekend. The end of September also marked the first month in 6 years that no NFL player has been arrested.

According to Reuters reporter Mike Rosenberg, the NFL has averaged “an arrest per week” since 2009. Rosenberg also reported that this is the first time in 15 years “the NFL went a calendar month during the season without an arrest.” The league has already had 33 total arrests in 2015, most recently San Fransisco 49ers Linebacker Ahmad Brooks who was charged with sexual battery at the end of August.

Alexandra Sifferlin reported the news for TIME and included a link in his article to USA Today’s NFL arrest archive. The archive contains a complete, descriptive account of a total of 805 NFL player arrests records dating back 15 years to January 24, 2000 when Broncos wide receiver Rod Smith was arrested for allegedly beating and choking his wife. It seems paradoxical that 15 years later we continue to see so many similar headlines. Katie Link and Christian Bryant of the Ventura County Star posed this question about the news of an arrest-free month, “should we view this ‘achievement’ as pathetic, or impressive?” On the other hand, the Dispatch Times referred to it as a “mind-blowing milestone.”  

Since 2009 the NFL has been subject to many media and criminal investigations regarding their many player arrests. Most notably is former New England Patriots Tight End Aaron Hernandez who was convicted of murder in April. Hernandez and other high profile players like former Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy, San Francisco’s Ray MacDonald, Baltimore Ravens Ray Rice, and Viking’s Adrian Peterson have made national headlines and brought up many social issues outside of the sport of football; including rape culture, drug use, animal cruelty, and alcohol and drug abuse. 

The criminal history and violent backgrounds behind many NFL players is not an issue the media has shied away from reporting. However, it is important to note that news of the NFL’s arrest-free month quickly spread on social media, sports blogs and major media conglomerates. This differs from the issue of injuries which I detailed in my article last week, “Protecting the player’s or Protecting the Shield”. Approximately 15 percent of players in the league have experienced an injury this season. While on an individual level this has been heavily reported, injuries and their increasing totals have been a largely avoided issue. However, media and the league did not shy away from making sure (quite literally) that everyone knows it went through an arrest-free month. The NFL and it’s PR department have attempted to put some distance between itself and both the injury and conduct issues the league faces, and will jump at any opportunity they can to make the league look better as it and commissioner Roger Goodell continue to face extreme criticism for the way the league is currently being run. It remains to be seen whether real change is progressing in the league or if this month was merrily a statistical anomaly that further proves the major conduct issues the NFL faces.