So I think I’ve figured it out. For years, the NFL has been making noise about expanding the regular season from sixteen games to maybe forty or so. Okay, they say eighteen but we know that would only be a stepping stone. I mean, that precedent has sort of been set already. Remember when pro football was only broadcast on Sundays? Three days a week is the new norm and, for a three-week stretch toward the end of the season, you’ll be able to watch live NFL action on Monday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Isn’t that wonderful? All along, I’ve assumed the league’s constant push for more and more football was motivated by money. Why settle for billions of dollars when there are gazillions right there for the taking? And don’t let them fool you. If there’s a stack of cash on the table they’ll scoop it up faster than Tom Brady can deflate eleven footballs. However, just this once, I think there might be something even larger than the all mighty dollar at play. You’ve heard of “Mo Money Mo Problems.” If the NFL gets its way, their new motto will be “Mo Money NO Problems!” Allow me to explain.
I’m going to throw some names at you and I want to know what you think. Ready? Here we go—Antonio Gates, Josh Gordon, Justin Blackmon, Wes Welker, Matt Prater, LeGarette Blount, Le’Veon Bell, Martavus Bryant, Aldon smith, Ray McDonald, Greg Hardy, Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Justin Galette, Brandon Spikes, Bernard Pierce, Jerome Simpson, Ahmad Bradshaw, Von Miller, Joseph Randle, Fred Davis, Davone Bess, Mike Williams and Jonathan Dwyer. Yes, those are all NFL players, and it’s only a partial list of the guys who’ve gotten into trouble for some sort of off-the-field issue just within the past calendar year. They’re beating their wives, beating their kids, beating their girlfriends, stealing underwear, getting high, getting high again, getting drunk, and then operating heavy machinery (usually in the form of an automobile) while under the influence of a banned substance. During the offseason, it seemed like some NFL player was getting into trouble about every other day. That’s not exactly a new development so why does it keep happening? That one’s easy. They’ve all got too much money and way too much free time. Repeated blows to the head probably don’t help either.
Remember Sheldon Richardson? He’s a defensive lineman for the Jets but it may be quite some time before we see him on the field again. He was suspended the first four games of the season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Richardson was apologetic and remorseful and told his teammates nothing like that would ever happen again. That was the afternoon of Thursday, July 30th. Less than two hours later, he was charged with resisting arrest and numerous traffic violations. Of course, it was all a big misunderstanding. Sheldon was just out having a little fun. Okay, he was having a lot of fun. The car he was driving was clocked at speeds exceeding 120, 130 and 140 miles per hour. Richardson had a twelve-year-old boy and a loaded hand gun with him at the time of the incident. According to police, his vehicle also smelled strongly of pot.
That all happened about a week before Jets training camp opened and it’s exactly the sort of thing I’m talking about. Players don’t get into trouble once the season opens. It’s always or at least almost always between February and July. These guys are making more money than most people will see in a lifetime but they’re young and immature and have a good six months of nothing to do. They respond by acting like jackasses. Can you really blame them? Well, yeah. They might be young but they are still adults and should be able to handle themselves better. That’s clearly not happening and I think the NFL feels a need to step in. It’s really a brilliant strategy. To restore the integrity of the sport, they’ll keep adding games to the schedule until players are too busy, tired and/or broken to do much more than practice while rehabbing from their assorted injuries. Sure, the quality of play might diminish a bit once there are twenty-five or thirty games on the schedule but at least the players will no longer have time to get into trouble.
And on the subject of players getting into trouble, this week’s Football Flashback deals with an ill-tempered kicker and is from week 7 of the 2009 season.
My Loser of the Week is Steelers kicker Jeff Reed. He seems to have some anger management issues. Reed’s first run-in with the law came in February when he pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and criminal mischief. This came after Reed ripped a towel dispenser off a wall at a convenience store. You might wonder what would provoke someone to do such a thing. Naturally, he did it because the dispenser was out of towels and Reed was unable to dry his hands. No, really. Then, early last week, Reed was charged with simple assault, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and public drunkenness. I wonder why they left out public stupidness. Police were citing Reed’s teammate Matt Spaeth for allegedly urinating outside a bar. Reed tried to intervene and, according to law enforcement officials, he took up a “fighting stance.” According to Reed’s agent, Reed would never try to hit anyone. “He’s about as non-confrontational a person as I know.” Someone should tell that to the towel dispenser.
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