Off-Field Behavior in the NFL Impacting Team’s Futures

Johnny Vegas?

Johnny Football goes to Vegas with Gronk over Memorial Day Weekend.  At least four Baltimore Ravens have been arrested this off-season. And former Patriot Aaron Hernandez pleads not guilty to two MORE murder charges . . . setting another new, but sad, record for the National Football League. More bad behavior by players in what is supposed to be the most “family-friendly” sports league in the United States.

Look, no one is saying that if you play in the NFL that you can’t have an adult beverage with your friends now and then, or maybe go to night club or strip club on occasion. But if you’re selling yourself as part of a total package known as professional football, there needs to be more awareness of how your behavior comes across to the general public (forget football fans) and the impact it has not only on your team, but on its volatile 2015 NFL odds.

A slip up this off-season might not impact your playing time THIS year, but another mistake (we’re talking to you Josh Gordon) and a play faces a longer suspension the second time. Now you’re forcing your team to think about who will replace you, which impacts who they draft and also impacts who they sign as a free agent. Each piece works together but, just like a player who is injury-prone, a pro football player who is trouble-prone will cause adjustments. Adjustments that sometimes shouldn’t be necessary, but will happen and will cause a team to change its game plan: like Hernandez and the Patriots last season.

So, Manziel goes to some bars.  Shouldn’t we just let Johnny be Johnny? That’s the tune he and the Browns are singing now, but what happens when there’s an “incident” at 2 am in some club? (And there always is.)  Do you try to pull your budding star at that point, or do you wait until there is an arrest of some kind and maybe games are lost and, ultimately, a season is lost?

The line that NFL players and teams must walk is getting finer and finer, and the risks get higher and higher. But don’t bet on that changing any time soon.