NFL players deserve tougher rules

by Beacon Staff • April 18, 2007

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is standing firm in his tough philosophy, which penalizes players whose behavior off the gridiron reflects poorly on the league.,Players in the National Football League (NFL) suddenly have more to be concerned about than yellow penalty flags.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is standing firm in his tough philosophy, which penalizes players whose behavior off the gridiron reflects poorly on the league.

It's about time.

Goodell suspended two players on April 10 for a total of 24 games. Adam "Pacman" Jones of the Tennessee Titans was suspended for the entire season, and Chris Henry of the Cincinnati Bengals was suspended for eight games.

Jones was reprimanded for his role in a Las Vegas strip-club shooting that left one man paralyzed. Henry is suspended for being arrested four times in a 14-month period. He is one of nine Bengals arrested in nine months.

"It is a privilege to represent the NFL, not a right," Goodell said in a statement to press after the suspensions. "These players and all members of our league have to make the right choices and decisions in their conduct on a consistent basis."

Their behavior off the field will cost them more than just game time. It is estimated Jones stands to lose approximately $1.2 million in pay. He will have to apply to be readmitted into the league.

It is unsure if the Titans will take him back.

Henry will lose $217,500, half of his annual salary.

Finally, someone is handing down harsh punishments to these out-of-control players. Too many in the league act like tantrum-throwing toddlers. If they don't get their way they don't play ball, or worse, they act out.

The stories about sex boat-parties, shootings, assaults and drunk driving have plagued the NFL's reputation. Commissioner Goodell is not only preserving the dignity of the organization and the game of football, but the children around the country who look to these athletes as role models.

The behavior of some of these players has simply been appalling. Not only have they brought embarrassment upon themselves, but their teams and the league. They should be made examples of.

Children idolize professional athletes. They are inspired by their favorite players to become active in sports. Unfortunately, there are few sports stars children should be looking up to today.

Instead of dreaming of hitting a home run to win the World Series for the Red Sox or score the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl for the Patriots, are American kids now going to dream of multi-million dollar contracts and their own line of sneakers?

Whatever happened to the days of Mean Joe Greene giving the kid his jersey for the bottle of Coca-Cola?

It is easy to believe that money and fame equals power. It seems that some professional athletes think that they are above the law because of who they are and what they have. The decisions players make in public are just as important as the decisions they make on the field.

The new rules in the NFL, with their heavier fines and longer suspensions, should help take away any notion that players are above the law. The era of the rich, spoiled and law-breaking athlete has to end.

Not all pro athletes should be condemned. There are a number of good role models for children in athletics.

But these aren't the players with the best-selling jersey.

We need to start valuing impressive behavior off the field just as much as we do the acrobatic plays on it. After all, it's more than just a game.,James O'Leary