Unsportsmanlike Conduct

Unsportsmanlike conduct, unnecessary roughness, personal fouls galore…and the NFL season hasn’t even started!  Every week seems to bring a few new player arrests, some of them usual suspects (Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Dez Bryant), some of them unlikely offenders (Minnesota Vikings Running Back Adrian Peterson).  Judging by the off the field antics, you’d think the summer of 2012 is another lockout for NFL players.  No organized team activities, no NFL Code of Conduct, no disciplinary action, only…it’s not.

Reports earlier this week were that 28 players had been arrested since the Superbowl.  That was before we found out about Tennessee Titans Wide Receiver Kenny Britt’s DUI arrest and now Kansas City Chiefs Defensive Back Donald Washington, of which I learned as I was writing this.  I have lost track, but am confident that number is right around 30.  This week’s highlight reel includes: Seattle Seahawks Running Back Marshawn Lynch’s DUI, Denver Broncos Defensive End Elvis Dumervil’s aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, Dez Bryant’s domestic abuse (of his mother), St. Louis Rams Defensive End Robert Quinn on DUI, now Britt and Washington on the same charge.

Peterson’s arrest prompted Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton to weigh in, comparing players to soldiers returning home from battle (a statement he has since apologized for).  Dayton also told Minnesota Public Radio that with almost half the year off, “Idle time is the devil’s play.”  We haven’t heard much from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell during all of this.  Though every time I hear about another arrest, I picture the scene from The Exorcist with his head turning all the way around.  And smoke coming out of his ears.

It is the NFL officials who are on lockout this summer and they seem to be on their best behavior.  Negotiations continue, but Goodell has hired replacement referees who are currently being trained in case they need them for the start of the season.  Even if they don’t, he could always use them next offseason!

The good news is…next week marks the start of training camp for many teams, meaning players will have far less free time on their hands.  But before that, comes another weekend.  And another opportunity for an infraction (or two, or three).  Off the field red flags the league has yet to respond to.  But can’t afford to ignore.