NFL players are no angels. Chances are, with the non-stop Aaron Hernandez news these days, you already knew that.
But a recent infographic by The Sports Geeks listing all NFL arrests since 2000 details how football players, in general, may not be the “thugs” that some have made them out to be:
Yes, there are arrests of all varieties on that map, to be sure. But notice how many *empty* squares there are — the Rams and Steelers didn’t have a single arrest over the nearly two-year period depicted, while a couple others had just one.
Some, of course, may say that one arrest is too many, but the issue of crime and the NFL isn’t one that can be viewed in a vacuum. Keep in mind, after all, that, otherworldly talents aside, NFL players are just adult men.And, like it or not, adult men get arrested. Frequently.
As of the most recent census, there are just over 100 million adult males in the United States; in 2009, some 10 million adult males were arrested. The approximate arrest rate for the general population, then, is right around 10%.
For NFL players, that percentage is significantly lower.
With active roster of 53 players at any given time, most NFL teams averaged around one arrest a year over the 14-year span, according to The Sports Geeks’ tally, good for about 2%. A sizable difference.
A quick glance at the full arrests database shows that most of the arrests went relatively unpunished, with suspended sentences the harshest sanctions doled out. Other than that, the players in question were receiving fines, probation, or merely a team suspension.
That’s certainly fishy, and it may well speak to the influence that NFL stars can have on the judicial system. Who knows how many players were pulled over and let off with a soft warning instead of handcuffs?
Still, though, even if we were to say that two-thirds of those who should be arrested get off scot-free, the NFL arrest rate would still only jump to around 6%. Any way you slice it, NFL players get in less trouble than their non-athlete counterparts.
In all likelihood, that stems from a couple different factors.
For one thing, there’s a certain responsibility as a professional athlete, and the burden of being a role model to kids nationwide might encourage some players to keep themselves in line. Plus, when you’re making six or seven figures, there’s less incentive to take risks and less reason to commit crime; you don’t need to steal, obviously, if you’re so well off.
Not that some haven’t done it anyway. As the Washington Post reported on Monday, some 40+ players have been arrested this year alone.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, Washington’s players have been arrested 18 times since 2000. Right around the NFL average, perhaps, but still far better than the norm.