NFL players push for discipline
“The percentage of players involved in this is very, very low. But there’s a perception out there and the problems are real.” What makes this unique is the push is partly coming from players, starting with 10 who attended a meeting in Indianapolis last week with Goodell, Upshaw and Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen. It was called to discuss escalating misbehavior involving NFL players, including the shooting that left Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams dead after the team’s final game on New Year’s Eve. “If you want players to listen, it has to come from the bottom, not the top. Not from Roger and me,” Upshaw said. “If other players tell them that’s the way it should be, it has a much greater effect.” Last fall, Goodell called Cincinnati Bengals president Mike Brown and offered help for a team-wide problem – eight Bengals (now nine) arrested in a year. But Bengals players are concerned, too. “Enough is enough,” quarterback Carson Palmer said at the Super Bowl. Three times a week, Tony Dungy stands in front of his Indianapolis Colts and reads the newspapers. Specifically, the police blotter: stories about athletes in trouble with the law. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, even when it’s someone as respected as Dungy doing the talking. Example: After the Colts won the Super Bowl, one of the game’s stars, running back Dominic Rhodes, was charged with drunken driving, the third Colt arrested in the last two years. Thus the proposal by commissioner Roger Goodell and Gene Upshaw, executive director of the NFL Players Association, to enact a “three strikes and you’re out” rule that would ban players for life after a third conviction. “We have to face it, there’s a problem,” Upshaw told The Associated Press. Player ferment already has started. Late last season, Jason Taylor of Miami suggested anyone suspended for a performance-enhancing drug be ineligible for postseason awards. He was referring to San Diego’s Shawne Merriman, who led the league in sacks despite being suspended for four games. Taylor was voted defensive player of the year, although Merriman got six votes in the balloting. Goodell and Upshaw are proposing the same standard used by the NFL for drug offenses be applied to lawbreakers. That is, three convictions and a player is subject to a lifetime ban. The slant of the Indy meeting was most of the nearly 2,000 NFL players don’t get in trouble with the law. Dungy keeps track of off-season arrests and says the number has been 17 to 25 each year. There are no figures for this year. But the meeting of a commissioner, a union head, an owner and 10 players clearly shows there’s a problem. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!