Did you know there is an entire database of NFL players who have been arrested since 2000? It’s right here, as compiled by USA Today at https://www.usatoday.com/sports/nfl/arrests/. In all, a total of 865 records appear in the database over the last 17 years. Even those who only watch the Super Bowl for commercials may recognize a plethora of names on this list. Plaxico Burress, LeGarrette Blount, Le’Veon Bell, Adrian Peterson and a whole slew of others appear throughout the database.
Each of those four athletes I mentioned made millions of dollars to play football after their arrests.
Burress shot himself in the thigh with a pistol he did not have the license to be carrying. He made over $4 million after the incident.
Blount and Bell were pulled over together amid being suspected of possessing 20 ounces of marijuana. The two have earned a combined $4 million since the incident. Bell is slated to earn $12.1 million next year under the Pittsburgh Steelers’ franchise tag or sign a much more lucrative long-term deal.
Peterson has two records in the database. One from charges of resisting arrest in 2012 that were later dropped. The other a widely covered felony charge of child abuse of 2014. Since, Peterson’s earnings have topped $25 million with a freshly signed $7 million deal yet to come.
On Tuesday, news broke that the Baltimore Ravens were the closest team yet to sign free agent QB Colin Kaepernick, and both head coach John Harbaugh and GM Ozzie Newsome were in favor of doing so, yet team own Steve Bisciotti was rumored to oppose the signing. Despite the Ravens potentially losing Flacco for extended time to a back injury and no obvious replacement on the depth chart, the franchise is split on whether to sign Kaepernick. With Flacco’s health in question, Baltimore’s quarterback choices are currently split between Ryan Mallet and his career 55 percent passer rating (with 10 interceptions to only seven touchdowns), and a backup QB with only three attempted passes since high school.
The organization has even gone to the length of polling fans on their views of signing Kaepernick.
Bisciotti has been a part-owner of the Ravens since 2000, and the team’s majority owner since 2004. In those 17 years of owning the team, Bisciotti has seen 27 Ravens appear on that very same database mentioned earlier. Among those were Jamal Lewis, who pleaded guilty of drug dealing and cocaine possession in Atlanta in 2004. He played with the Ravens for a further two years. Former cornerback Chris McAlister was on the list three separate times, the latest coming in August of 2003. McAlister would stay a member of the Ravens through 2008.
And let’s not forget Ray Lewis, who was famously charged with the murder of two men outside a nightclub in Atlanta. Lewis pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and was given one year of probation and a $250,000 fine from the NFL. He went on to play another 12 seasons with Baltimore and accrue over $80 million in total cash earnings.
People may invoke the case of Ray Rice here. That is ludicrous. Not only does it equate a peaceful anthem protest with a full-fledged assault of a woman, it completely ignores the fact that Baltimore was ready and willing to keep Rice on their roster up until surveillance footage of the incident became public — a video that was almost certainly known to the organization prior to its public unveiling, and was entirely unnecessary to determine the severity of the incident in the first place.
This article is not a debate about Kaepernick’s anthem protests. Much like how Deflate-gate evolved into a fight over the commissioner’s power and abuse thereof, this story has evolved into two questions: what is the NFL willing to ignore as long as you can play football to a reasonable standard? What is it not willing to ignore?
Kaepernick is a quality backup quarterback, at the very least, who under ‘normal’ circumstances would have been signed long before the start of training camp, as Mike Glennon, Josh McCown and Austin Davis have proven this offseason. The problem here resides in what the NFL considers ‘normal’ circumstances. The league has long made it a normal occurrence to sign players guilty of drug possession, domestic violence, sexual assault, DUI, and a massive list of other felonies, misdemeanors, criminal acts, and various character flaws. None of those caused all 32 teams to stand back and say, “We cannot allow this man to play football after what he has done”.
So far, they have said exactly that to Kaepernick. Regardless of what your feelings are about Kaepernick’s anthem protests or subsequent remarks, they were not and are not a crime. They do not warrant a franchise reaching out to fans about the prospects of his signing with the team, at least not when no fans or sponsors were allotted a voice when Chris McAllister or Ray Lewis were signed by the very same franchise. The hypocrisy is galling.