Remember when the National Basketball Association was the professional sports’ league that was loaded with thugs and gangsters and druggies? Do you remember when Latrell Sprewell choked his coach P.J. Carlesimo and Allen Iverson was complaining about ‘practice?’
The culture was so troublesome that former Commissioner David Stern instituted a dress code so that players didn’t look like rap stars while traveling and sitting on the bench.
Funny how we see and hear little about these things in the NBA now isn’t it? Perhaps this is because the NBA has been replaced by the National Football League in this rather dubious area.
Just this week, the NFL suspended Washington Redskins’ tight end Fred Davis indefinitely for repeated substance abuse and of course the bigger story has been out of Atlantic City.
Baltimore Ravens’ star running back will be in court Tuesday on assault charges stemming from an incident at a casino in New Jersey. Allegedly, Rice struck his fiancé in an elevator and the blow left her unconscious.
Surveillance video shows Rice pulling his clearly unknowing fiancé out of the elevator before a security official comes over. At that point, Rice shows his disgust realizing things are about to get worse for him.
Whether he will be charged with a felony or not is uncertain but either way it’s another black eye for the NFL.
I don’t want this to sound like the NBA has suddenly become angelic because it hasn’t by any stretch, but we cannot deny the fact that the NFL has clearly become a much greater mess.
If you think the improper behavior by pro football players is a new thing, it isn’t. There was Paul Hornung of Green Bay who was suspended for gambling and there was Jim McMahon of the Bears who mooned a helicopter prior to Super Bowl XX.
The bigger problem though is that the NFL is continuing to enable a culture that it said it was trying to get rid of in the first place. If you recall Roger Goodell’s first priorities then you know one of those was to clean up the league.
Goodell believed that swifter and more stringent punishments would curb poor behavior but instead it has only gotten worse.
What many will not say is that the NFL has allowed the thug culture to flourish within its’ ranks and I’m not talking about Richard Sherman.
When you take young men who have been raised in difficult, often father-less or parent-less environments, you raise the chances of them not behaving properly. This is far from just a black issue too because it has spread to white players as well.
I believe it was really Howard Schnellenberger and Jimmy Johnson who brought this to football when they started to realize that they cared less what kids did off the field and cared more about what they did on it.
Miami’s rise to prominence in the 1980’s was fueled by players from less than desirable situations, but they could play faster and better than other kids and that’s what mattered.
Obviously these players eventually made their way into the NFL and the trend has continued. People wonder why coaches and teams give players so many chances after making poor choices and the answer is simple.
If they can play at a high level then they are worth keeping around. The NBA has figured out how to maintain a much better image in recent years and the NFL would be well suited to look into their method.