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I went through my meager collection of football cards the other day to see if I had any cards of Ray Rice or Adrian Peterson so I could rip them up.

It turns out I didn't.

But I do have plenty of other law-breakers (or people who were charged but not necessarily convicted, we do still have a justice system that's called innocent until proven guilty, correct?) in the less than 200 football cards that I own.

The one thing that has bothered me regarding the criticism of the NFL regarding these recent cases, is that people are behaving like this is something new, like the NFL suddenly just allowed a couple of ne'er-do-wells to slip into the league and SHAME ON THEM for being so careless and callous.

Well, people who just happened to stumble into the ways of the NFL last week, this is well-trampled ground. With the exception of a beating being filmed for all to see, none of this -- absolutely none -- is new. The NFL has been a sanctuary for lawless behavior for as long as I can remember. Perhaps it wasn't that way when I was a kid, but definitely through the '80s and '90s and 2000s, the NFL has glorified violence and attracted those who enjoy violence.

I don't know how you separate that. It's a violent sport. It will always appeal to a certain kind of player. Not that all NFL players are violent lawbreakers, but I don't know how you wipe clean that segment of society from your league given what you market. I think it will always be there.

So, even though I couldn't find a Ray Rice card, I went through about half of the NFL cards that I do have -- most of them Bills -- and this is what I found:























I had to stop before I got through the whole stack of 170-something cards. That was the result after maybe two-thirds of the pile.

You can argue that some of those incidents are worse than others, that some maybe resulted in nothing more than costing a few bucks or didn't result in a conviction, that some happened when the player was young and didn't know any better. But it still remains that it is incredibly easy to find an NFL player with a criminal record.

Sure, the news of the last couple of weeks has been terrible and maybe the outcry will finally help improve things somewhat in the NFL.

But Ray Rice isn't new. Neither is Adrian Peterson. The NFL isn't any more evil than it's ever been.

My viewing of NFL games began to diminish in the '90s because of this very topic -- criminals running rampant through the league. As the cases piled up, I watched the league less and less (I was once a big NFL follower in the late 1980s). I just couldn't take all of the bad behavior. This is a league with O.J. Simpson and Ray Lewis as alumni. Lawrence Taylor, Michael Irvin, Mark Chmura, Ryan Leaf.

So if you're just getting outraged now?


Either you just discovered pro football about a month ago ... or you've had your head in the sand for, oh, about two decades.


Robert said…
Just in case this vast array of arrests wasn't enough to whet your appetite football fans, check this out:
Dave said…
Criminals in pink, half a day of pregame, over celebration of routine plays, crappy music, half time shows... not looking forward to winter. Why can't they broadcast winter ballgames from the Dominican instead?!
Fuji said…
Damn. I figured that every sport has their share of athletes who run into trouble with the law... but this is crazy. Thurman Thomas and Bruce Smith were arrested? What's this world coming to?
steelehere said…
What on earth is going on with MARCELL DAREUS' and his pink gloves?
BobWalkthePlank said…
Yikes! I'm with Fuji in not remembering the Thurman Thomas arrest.
Spankee said…
Good list hidden in this post:

I feel like you threw the Chris Ellis one in there just for me. Go Hokies!!!
It never ceases to amaze me how often I search a player and half their wiki is about the jail time they served.

Anyway, cool site! I added you to my blogroll:
Corky said…
I was talking about this to my teenage son just yesterday. He had made the statement that it seems like NFL players are now getting more violent and I went through a list like this to explain that this isn't new but it does seem like some of these more recent incidents are getting a knee-jerk public response by the NFL while others are just swept under the rug.

Jupiterhill said…
Sad to see two former Missouri Tigers on the list (Aldon and Justin Smith), but I remember those incidents. The bomb scare is the least of Aldon's problems and he really needs some type of guidance. I'm with the others who didn't know about the Thurman Thomas one.

I have started thinning my football card collection down to just Mizzou alums and Kansas City Chiefs, but even still, I have some I have excluded. Larry Johnson and Jovan Belcher cards are not welcome in my collection, though I won't ever rip them up. I do shudder each time I hear their names though.
Unknown said…
Out of curiosity, to those who refuse to watch football or won't have certain players in their collections, do you apply that same moral compass to other entertainers (musicians, actors, writers) and forms of media (CDs, DVDs, books) as well? There is plenty of dirt to be dug up anywhere you'd care to look, whether it's Hollywood, MLB or the NBA.
cardstacks said…
Do you have a want list for law-breaking Bills? As a Bills fan myself, the list makes me sad. Fortunately only Dareus is on the current team. I'm sure no other Bills will break the law...
Ana Lu said…
What a collection un?
night owl said…
Good point. I'm fairly old school when it comes to music so vast majority of the music collection is criminal free. There's also something "faceless" about music where you identify more with the product than who's doing it. Can't say the same for sports.
Bo said…
Baseball is not a whole lot better. Nobody said a peep about domestic abuse this year when Bobby Cox was elected to the Hall of Fame. You could do a similar exercise with baseball, I google guys for my player profiles and plenty of low-profile guys have arrests that go unnoticed save for a small paragraph in the paper.
night owl said…
I just tried the same thing with baseball -- 200 random cards from the last 10-20 years and stopping after getting through 2/3s. I found 8 players with arrests. Not great, but not in same ballpark with football ... yet.
Stack22 said…
How about those Doug Marrone Bills!
Josh D. said…
So did you rip up all those guys instead?

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