Football players worshipped despite violence, criminality

Written By Matthew Bauman


It began with Sundays, then overtook Mondays, and then engulfed Thursday as well. The National Football League consumes about half of the week of our daily lives from August through February. Nine billion, with a “b,” dol­lars go to the league every year in revenue, and the commissioner is projecting that number to increase to 25 billion by 2027. It is the highest grossing professional sport in the world, and it is the most watched sport, breaking viewership re­cords every year during its Super Bowl broadcast.

For as established, powerful and consis­tently profitable as it is, why on Earth is the NFL a juggernaut of selfish, overpaid criminals who should not be role models for anyone, let alone children?

That was quite an accusation, I know, so let me break it down and explain myself piece by piece.

The NFL was founded in 1920 in Canton, Ohio, and has existed for a little under a centu­ry now. It has become almost as well-established and American as apple pie and fighting Nazis.

The NFL is also undoubtedly powerful. This is about to be shown in the upcoming film “Con­cussion,” about the NFL’s attempts to silence a sports doctor, who tried to expose the long-term brain damages that come from playing football. The NFL even succeeded in convincing Sony Pic­tures to extract key scenes to soften how the NFL is portrayed in the film.

And as stated before, the NFL rakes in bil­lions of dollars every year through ticket sales, sponsorship, air-time, celebrity endorsements, jersey sales, logo patents, etc.

So enough about the “positives” of the NFL. Let’s start talking about the traits everybody is too scared to talk about.

Nobody ever talks about how overpaid the football players are. They get paid millions of dollars a year, not even including endorse­ments, to throw a ball, or to catch a ball, or to tackle the guy in front of them. The average high-school teacher salary is only marginally better than the poverty line, yet these players make more in a year than a dozen men make in their lifetime to do something we used to do as kids in the backyard when we were bored after Thanksgiving dinner.

I use the term “criminal” to describe the NFL players as well. In the league, players have been accused of many different crimes that in any other profession would result in being fired and banned from working in their industry for the rest of their lives. In the NFL, however, they are given a slap on the wrist, banned briefly and then are able to continue working to receive their million dollar paychecks once again.

There have been three accounts of murder from NFL players, 14 cases of resisting arrest, 19 cases of theft, 19 cases of sex crimes including sexual assault, rape, and molestation, 34 cases of reckless driving, 40 cases of disorderly conduct, 55 cases of illegal gun ownership, 93 cases of as­sault, 96 cases of domestic violence, 102 cases of illegal drug use, and a whopping 253 cases of DUIs, all since the year 2000, according to a No­vember 16 article in USA Today.

What makes me sick is how these people, these criminals, who are household names to everyone in this nation, have posters of them with milk mustaches that are hung up in mid­dle schools and gymnasiums everywhere to inspire children. Never once have I seen a post­er of Warren Buffet, Bono, or J.K. Rowling in a school, but Ben Roethlisberger seems to follow me everywhere I go, to where I have to force my­self to forget that he once raped a woman in a public restroom.

I understand not every NFL player is like this. Troy Polamalu was one of these exceptions that embodied a great role model as well as a great player.

Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Adam “Pac­man” Jones best characterizes the issue I am re­ferring to. Jones has been arrested eight separate times for battery and assault. If he were in any other profession he would have been fired and put in jail. Instead, he was suspended for one sea­son, and when he returned he made $1.35 million a year and signed a $5 million three year contract for the Bengals. Imagine a teacher getting arrest­ed multiple times for attacking someone and not getting fired. Why do we hold people we pay less to a higher standard?

The NFL needs to start acting profession­ally. They are a professional sports league that acts like a bunch of over-muscular children who think they can get away with anything because they make more money than you and I do. Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the NFL, needs to hold his players more accountable for their ac­tions, and needs to make them earn the ridicu­lous amount of money they make, because they sure don’t deserve what they take in right now.