I ran across this somewhat dated but interesting article, and wasn’t surprised in the least. Commissioner Roger Goodell and the rest of the NFL Front Office Executives fully understand the ramifications of illegal/criminal/questionable behavior and its boomerang ramifications upon the red, white, and blue shield of professional football. And so Goodell chose to take the tough approach by implementing the Personal Conduct Policy in 2007. Yet the article below sites a rise of 61% in arrests since implementing a crack down on players not willing to tow the line.
The League has instituted program after program in hopes of “educating” its players to the proper behavior in just about every facet of life; financial, health, social, etc… Entire departments have been formed with some six figure salaries working to put together Power Point presentations to present at the Rookie Symposium every summer. Noble ventures for sure, but perhaps a “CYA check box” is a better description. It was my personal feeling (mine alone) that most of these lectures were intended to cover the NFL in case of a crisis. “We told them not to drink, smoke, tote guns, beat their wives, drive fast, or spend foolishly. It’s all in the curriculum for the symposium or available on the website!”
Problem is that for most of the young players that need this information, it goes in one ear and out the other. Not until the 32 individual clubs take it upon themselves to build into their culture a sense of both personal and professional responsibility will conduct policies in a pamphlet become an actual way of life. How else do you explain last season’s two biggest news items in the Patriots’ Aaron Hernandez’s arrest on murder charges and the Dolphins’ locker room fiasco with Richie Incognito and friends? *Note – Now we’ve got the Ray Rice incident to deal with.
I’ve harped on this subject on The Football Educator since its inception, we’re dealing with a different generation of young person that populates the player pool. Not right, not wrong, just different. They see the world differently, communicate with it differently, view authority differently, and measure their own personal responsibilities differently.
Perhaps a better, though not 100% perfect example for the NFL would be the United States Military. Made up of the same young demographic, most under the stress of absolute mission accomplishment, working under an hierarchical system of authority, and bound by tradition yet influenced by a new reality, the military at least works to practice what they preach at the unit level.
Some credit MUST go the League and Commissioner Goodell for even addressing many of these issues in the first place, and then having the backbone to attempt to enforce their validity in the big picture. But until ownership, coaches, and GM’s at the club level see the development of young men as important as the development of a game plan, then we’re going to continue to have these rising rates. Bottom line is you get what you put in.
Stop checking boxes and start implementing leadership, the new kind that’s necessary to really create change.
The Football Educator
NFL Offseason Reported Arrests Are Up 61% Since Roger Goodell Implemented Personal Conduct Policy in 2007
By Jason Lisk July 1, 2013
In April of 2007, Roger Goodell announced the implementation of his Personal Conduct Policy, suspending Pac-Man Jones for a full season and Chris Henry for eight games. That policy extended beyond requiring a criminal conviction, where any event that embarrassed or affected the league’s reputation could be punished, even if the player was ultimately not punished by the law. In announcing it, Goodell laid out his thoughts:
“Illegal or irresponsible conduct does more than simply tarnish the offender. It puts innocent people at risk, sullies the reputation of others involved in the game, and undermines public respect and support for the NFL.
“While criminal activity is clearly outside the scope of permissible conduct, and persons who engage in criminal activity will be subject to discipline, the standard of conduct for persons employed in the NFL is considerably higher. It is not enough simply to avoid being found guilty of a crime. Instead, as an employee of the NFL or a member club, you are held to a higher standard and expected to conduct yourself in a way that is responsible, promotes the values upon which the league is based, and is lawful.
“Persons who fail to live up to this standard of conduct are guilty of conduct detrimental and subject to discipline, even where the conduct itself does not result in conviction of a crime.”
That announcement came after a dramatic spike in arrests and public incidents involving NFL players. How bad was it? According to the San Diego Union-Tribune database of NFL arrests, there were 68 arrests in 2006, the majority of which came after July 1st of that year (Goodell took over as commissioner just prior to the start of the 2006 season). That was a massive spike over previous years, and led to a public outcry that, by and large, supported Goodell’s tough talk.
We are now more than six years post-Goodell’s Conduct Policy, so how successful has it really been? This is all coming to the forefront again this offseason as the number of arrests have moved past 30 since the Super Bowl. The supporters of the policy would claim that NFL arrests are down since Goodell instituted the policy–and they would be right if we just looked at the specific short stretch that led to his initial actions.
What we don’t know, though, is what would have happened had the Policy not been put in place. Maybe we would be living in a law-less NFL world where hundreds of players would now be getting arrested if Goodell did not begin lengthy suspensions. More likely, in my opinion, those arrest numbers would have regressed anyway, we just don’t know how much.
What we can do is take a broader view, and using the arrests database, go back to 2000. We can also break it down by “offseason” arrests (Feb. 1st to June 30th, so that we match the end of this year) and the rest of the year, when players are mostly in camp or in season.
Here, for example, is the average number of arrests for each season, for months that would be part of the season (July – January):
2000 to 2006 (pre-Goodell and during the first bad arrest year that prompted Goodell): 25.6 arrests per year
2007 to 2012 (post-Personal Conduct Policy): 25.2 arrests per year
If you exclude the 2006 outlier, when 47 arrests occurred during those months, prompting Goodell to act (no other year has had more than 31 during those months), then that first number drops to 22.0. Still, pretty similar arrest numbers.
Not so, though, when we look at the offseason. If we exclude the 2007 offseason, when there were 32 more arrests (since Goodell instituted the policy mid-way through it), we get the following arrests on average:
2000 to 2006: 17.7
2008 to 2013: 28.5
That’s a 61% increase of pre-Goodell to post-Goodell arrests in the NFL offseason months of February to June. The case that Goodell’s Personal Conduct Policy is having a deterrent impact on player behavior is pretty weak. Why might that number be so much higher post-Goodell?