Even though I have already had one football draft so far this year, I have really not paid a lot of attention to the NFL pre-season flurry, but it did surprise me the past couple of days to see the sports wire below the baseball games tell me that Josh Gordon and Ray Rice had been suspended.
More interesting has been the waves of moralizing going on about these two men's crimes, especially with respect to the source of Josh and Ray's misdeeds.
Gordon was arrested for drunk driving for the third time, while Rice got into a donnybrook with his wife--at the time his fiancé--however, for the physical violence charge the Ravens running back was suspended just a pair of games while Gordon has been called out for the entire 2014 season, per Roger Goodell (Gordon is appealing the sentence).
I cannot argue that this seems silly: driving drunk will cost you the season, but beating up your girlfriend is only worth a pair of contests, but I suspect some of the sentence has to do with horrifying or not, Rice is apparently a first time offender while Gordon--like Justin Blackmon--has run afoul with the bottle a magic third time and you're out.
Mind you, to reaffirm, I am not saying what Rice did is more reprehensible, but, I also suspect the first failed test for Gordon might not even have merited a suspension, but rather a warning and the directive to seek counseling.
Further, it is not like DWI is to be taken lightly, for most of the time drunk drivers have luck or an observant police force--or both--keeping the inebriated out of harm's way while protecting the public at the same time.
I do think it is interesting that in the case of football, the it is the league for the most part that metes out justice, for I wonder why the teams themselves don't immediately react to malfeasance, at least suggesting the team management is reviewing the particulars and will make a decision.
Because I ask you: where you work, were these issues to come to the attention of your management, would the HR department take care of things, or the folks that regulate your particular industry?
But, as I was thinking about this and trying to figure out what I think the best way to handle such suspensions, I decided to look and see just how many players are on administrative hold thanks to a league ruling.
Amazingly, depending upon how you look at it, only 11 players are on active suspension by the NFL. I went through the Niners roster (and the 11 does not count Aldon Smith) and counted 84 active players in camp. Times that by 30 teams and we have a whopping 2520 human beings.
That means that including Smith, 0.437% of the league are actual miscreants, with problems enough to merit public spectacle.
Although, because so much money is involved with the game, what this could also mean is a player has to really blow it bad a bunch, or very publicly (or both) in order to receive the judgment of Goodell.
I suspect there are a lot more "incidents" involving moral turpitude that go on in a population of humans who paid huge sums of money in order to destroy opponents on a weekly basis for half of each year.
According to CBSSPORTS.com, this is a list of those players currently under suspension (they don't have Smith in there yet) in the NFL, along with the reason, and for how long:
- Daryl Washington - Substance abuse, third incident, out for the season
- Ray Rice - Domestic violence, first incident, out two games
- Frank Alexander - Substance abuse, first incident, out four games
- Josh Gordon - Substance abuse, third incident, out for the season
- Robert Mathis - Banned substance, first incident, out four games
- Justin Blackmon - Substance abuse, third incident, out indefinitely
- Dion Jordan - Performance enhancing substances, first incident, out four games
- Jayron Hosley - Substance abuse, first incident, out four games
- Jake Knott - Performance enhancing substances, first incident, out four games
- Aldon Smith - Substance abuse, third incident, 2014 season pending
- Stedman Bailey - Performance enhancing substances, first incident, out four games
It does seem odd that all but Rice are drug violations of one kind or another.
And, I do need to make a distinction between Blackmon, who is a pothead, noting that in Colorado and in Washington, the wide receiver was not even doing anything wrong in the first place, according to state laws.
The truth is, I am not sure I really want to know how many NFL players beat their kids or drive drunk or bully or jaywalk or whatever.
I just want to watch them play.
Not that anyone in such a chosen profession--where money and fame and privilege are so accessible--athletes should not take the role model moniker seriously.
I mean, I am just a writer, and I always want to be thought of as a stand up guy, because that is how I want to be.