No need for NFL to institute new behavior policy
Posted: Thursday March 1, 2007 3:44PM; Updated: Thursday March 1, 2007 3:44PM
The NFL will consider a "three strikes and you're out of the league" policy for players who break the law, the Associated Press reported this week. The proposal is the result of a meeting between NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, union head Gene Upshaw and a small group of NFL players.
"We have to face it, there's a problem" Upshaw said on Wednesday.
You don't have to follow the NFL closely to know what he's talking about. For a while the Bengals seemed to be running an arrest-of-the-month club. Tank Johnson needed a judge's permission to travel out-of-state to play in the Super Bowl. Then you had Pacman Jones at NBA All-Star weekend in Las Vegas. Police took $81,000 in bills that they said belonged to Jones and said he'd been using some of them to shower on strippers, at a club where a triple shooting took place.
In a league where players are fined for wearing their socks the wrong way, this clearly could not stand. I wouldn't even be surprised if this plan from Upshaw and Goddell is a preliminary step down a longer road which ends with the league creating a full-blown penal code, with mandatory suspensions for specific crimes. After all, how can you have a career-death penalty that kicks in for three strikes, but nothing at all for the first two strikes? To really throw the book at someone, the book needs to have more than just one page.
Some mandatory league penalties might not be a bad idea -- two game suspension for a DUI, for example. Knowing they would lose a couple of paychecks might give would-be drunk drivers reason to pause.
And you can imagine that such a hard-line stance would play well with some fans, who think the misbehaving millionaires need a little more law and order in their lives.
But the big idea of a three-strikes rule is a big mistake.
In the court system, judges complain about this kind of three-strikes rule, saying it effectively takes the judging out of the judge's hands. They lose the ability to make distinctions between a real thug and a guy who has not that far gone.
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