Playing in the NFL is a privilege reserved for only the most elite athletes in the world. With it come the trappings of fame and wealth, and also the burden of responsibility to the team and the community. You look at the Tank Johnson case; he's in jail now for violating probation on a weapons charge, and Pacman Jones; who is a walking example of why the overhaul is needed, with TEN run-ins with the law, and you can understand the odd separation here. I'll get right out with it, here's what I think it should be for arrests:
- Strike one: 4 game ban. Everyone makes mistakes, but you shouldn't at this level. You should know better. If your culture somehow demands that you spend every night till 4AM in a nightclub, you can damned well behave yourself.
- Strike two: 1 year ban. Your salary cap hit for the year comes off your team's responsibility, so they can sign someone to replace your thug ass for the year, or permanently, should they so desire.
- Strike three: Lifetime ban. You're done. No more clubs, no more dubbed Hummers. Your team gains your entire contract's cap hit number back, and they are entitled to your entire signing bonus back.
Why just arrests, and not convictions? Why no waiting for due process? Here's why. People rarely, if ever, get arrested for NO REASON. If you get arrested, you did something to make the officer consider your conduct suspect. Even if you didn't commit a crime, your punk ass was sitting there mouthing off, or your posse was causing trouble. Either way, it's on you. And in any event, being there in the first place is probably a violation of your contract's code of conduct.
I don't think pro athletes deserve any better than I would get on my job; if I got arrested, I'd be fired before it went to trial. So would you, probably.
Playing in the NFL is a privilege, not an entitlement; and they should take back the luster and prestige the league used to command. No team should put up with those who would tarnish the league's image. Like it or not, kids use NFL players as role models. The league used to hace a code of conduct that demanded that those in the fraternity earn it through their good conduct as well as their play. If teams stopped taking risks on conduct problem children, and pushed the message down into the college ranks that it's no longer tolerated, then maybe people will start behaving better from the beginning.