Mark Dayton, the governor of Minnesota, had some thoughts on football player arrests this week. The Minnesota Vikings have overtaken the Cincinnati Bengals in total arrests since 2000. Dayton was just prominently involved in the push for a stadium in Minneapolis, and is probably sensitive to issues of publicity as it relates to the home town team. Here’s part of what he said:
“They’re heavily armored and heavily psyched to do what they have to do and go out there and, you know, what’s basically, slightly civilized war. And then they take that into society. Much as soldiers come back, they’ve been in combat or the edge of it, and suddenly that adjustment back to civilian life is a real challenge. That’s just, again, part of the reality. That’s not to say it’s good and it shouldn’t be improved. It should. And commissioner (Roger) Goodell, in my view, has been really trying to deal with that.”
This really pushes that whole football vs. war thing to its absurd limit, so Dayton grabs the early lead on absurd war analogy usage. The post-traumatic stress that some soldiers deal with is incomparable to a football player playing a game three hours a week. Setting that aside, though, are football players really arrested at a much higher rate than society, particularly once you account for age?
When I looked at arrest rates by team, the average NFL team has averaged 18.86 arrests since 2000. That’s about 1.5 per team per year. The rosters may be 53 men, but once you account for IR, and training camp rosters (and yes, some of the arrests are of relatively anonymous players who were cut from rosters), the rate is around 2.5% per year. There are a small number of notable multiple arrests and repeat offenders, so that it’s probably closer to 2% of NFL players per season that are arrested. Ty wrote about SI’s college football arrest piece and cited 3.1% as the national average for convictions. It’s not clear that the NFL players are actually arrested at a higher rate than the public. Yes, they are high profile and we love to see the mug shots. No, they are not, as a group, animals who cannot control themselves when they can no longer hit someone in a game but have to walk into public.
“I think they should be held as accountable to follow the laws of our society as anyone else and the consequences should be the same. I wish there could be instilled that badge of honor so that they would hold themselves to higher standard or the league could. And obviously, they’re falling considerably short of that now.
Are players not held accountable? They have money so they can pay for attorneys who give them the best defense possible, but other than having that advantage like other people with money, do they not get held accountable?
These same quotes about accountability and “badges of honor” could be applied to politicians, by the way. I’m not going to go through the list of politicians arrested because it’s too long. I mean, right there in Minnesota, they have Senator Larry Craig and his arrest for lewd conduct. The Vikings may have double the arrests of the average team since 2000, but their rate (around 5% of all player-seasons) is no where near the prominent Minnesota politician arrest rate over that time.
Governor Dayton would also like the players to know, in approving the team’s action in bringing in a former strip club owner to talk to the players, that employees at strip clubs are not their friends and are trying to exploit them to get money. Because I’m sure players are not aware of that, and have altruistic motives themselves.
[photo via theepochtimes]