“All those players for that team are criminals!”
“They wouldn’t play for my team!” “I would cut him!”
Now, let’s take the average case that the NFL looks into. Not Aaron Hernandez murder trial and also not Joseph Randle stealing underwear. Without looking at serious evidence, I would imagine that the average case the NFL investigates regarding player discipline would be in the range of DUI (driving under the influence), substance abuse or possession (narcotics or PEDs), or domestic violence.
1st thing that must be clarified is that I am not condoning any of these actions. The emotional, relational, and even financial stakes when it comes to abuse of substances or persons are devastating. I don’t need stats to back this up, I have seen it.
Back to the blog:
Using these examples, is the reaction justified?
Let’s do a hypothetical situation:
28 year old man, money in his pocket, and time on his hands. Buddies want to go out. Party lasts too long. Bad decisions get made. This guy tries to drive home but eventually wrecks his vehicle and proceeds to get arrested for DUI and because of testosterone and alcohol; he puts his hands on his officer adding resisting arrest or even assaulting an officer.
Now if this guy is on a NFL roster he would probably get a 4 – 8 game suspension on top of any legal penalties. But, the fan base would be calling radio stations claiming that he is a thug and needs to be released.
What if the 28 year old man works in Detroit for an automobile manufacturer or on a pipeline in Texas? He posts bail and pays his fine and court fees, goes to all the hearings, and if it is a first time offense probably results in no jail time.
Nobody is claiming he should lose his job and when he does return to work, the same fan who might have called into the local sports shows or blasted him on social media if he was an athlete, but is instead cutting up with him during lunch break.
I have gotten to work in various work environments with guys who have felony criminal history, vulgar prison tats, have battled or battling serious drug addiction, violent backgrounds, etc. Want to know the strange part about that? They were some of my most dependable, productive, cooperative coworkers. Sure, some times it didn’t work out, they got fired, quit, or had to move.
You know what else happened to me? A couple of years ago, my employment was terminated due to a layoff due to oil prices.
When you have to file for unemployment, it changes the way you speak about somebody’s livelihood.
We want to fire athletes for things that some of my favorite coworkers, and closest friends and family have dealt with?
What if that was your coworker, cousin, or best friend?
I understand the other side too. I have had to decide to terminate employment of dozens of workers, based on attendance, job performance, or other business reasons.
I understand there are consequences, and I understand that there are more severe consequences the higher the stakes. And the NFL deals with a lot of money…. I mean stakes.
Main point: I am not expecting us to treat a professional athlete like our best friend when they make a mistake, but I know you wouldn’t say the same things to your best friend that you would about the professional athlete.
The reason why? You have seen them as a person, you have seen them as a unique individual.
C.S. Lewis said,
“There are no ordinary people.
You have never talked to a mere mortal.
Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat.
But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”
Think about that. Every person you have ever seen was made in the image of God. Whether he works for the NFL or for General Motors.