So, the NFL is the only thing keeping Americans away from committing crimes? Most Americans are law abiding and enjoy sports as a diversion from the pressures of everyday life. The vast majority of Americans realize it is a game played by adults for the amusement of fans. It should never be taken as a serious life or death issue. Unfortunately, some fans take their sports obsession too far. At a recent Dodgers game in Los Angeles, a Giants fan was brutally attacked and suffered brain damage at the hands of gang members who objected to his San Francisco jersey. This horrific crime was finally solved when one of the gang members was recently arrested.
If there is no NFL season, Americans have plenty of other recreations outlets. Of course, college football will still be played and will become more popular. It is nice to watch athletes who are competing for the sheer joy of the game instead of multi-million dollar paychecks.
The NFL has become typical of professional sports. Most Americans cannot afford to purchase tickets. The prices have skyrocketed as owners need ever increasing revenues to pay outrageous salaries. The labor dispute between owners and players is not well received by Americans who are facing horrible economic conditions. Average Americans cannot understand how millionaires and billionaires cannot resolve their differences. It seems that greed is at the root of this problem.
In the meantime, Ray Lewis will continue to pontificate on the “evil” which will occur if the season is not played. This is another way of pressuring owners into accepting the demands of players. In effect, Lewis is saying that owners will have blood on their hands if the season is not played.
However, the evidence suggests that crime will continue to go down nationally, regarding of whether there is a NFL season. In the past year, violent crime dropped by 5.5 percent, despite a really bad economy. Police are successfully using more aggressive law enforcement techniques and criminals are receiving longer sentences.
Professional athletes are another story however. In the past year, there have been 85 incidents of professional football players who have been involved in criminal behavior. From Michael Vick to Plaxico Burress, too many professional athletes are very accustomed to the criminal justice system.
In fact, no NFL player is more familiar with criminal behavior than Ray Lewis. In 2000, he was involved in a fight outside of an Atlanta bar that resulted in the stabbing death of two people. He was charged with aggravated assault and two counts of murder, but he was able to work out a plea deal with the prosecutors and the charges were reduced to obstruction of justice. Lewis admitted that he misled authorities and the clothing he was wearing the night of the crime has never been located. He testified against two other men, who were not NFL stars and did not have millions of dollars to pay for legal counsel..
Ever since that incident, critics have charged that Lewis received preferential treatment. Yet, many professional athletes are able to receive their own form of special justice. It is an outrage that there are so many athletes forgetting their position as role models for impressionable youth of America. If charged with a crime, pro football players should be treated like any other criminal, regardless of their athletic skills.
Instead of worrying about fans committing crimes in the absence of a NFL season, Lewis should direct his concern toward his fellow players.
Jeff Crouere is a native of New Orleans, LA and he is the host of a Louisiana based program, “Ringside Politics,” which airs at 7:30 p.m. Fri. and 10:00 p.m. Sun. on WLAE-TV 32, a PBS station, and 7 till 11 a.m.weekdays on WGSO 990 AM in New Orleans and the Northshore. For more information, visit his web site at www.ringsidepolitics.com. E-mail him at [email protected].