Aaron Berry was cut from the Lions today for breaking the golden rule–a man’s talent must outweigh his foolishness. Berry was popped for simple assault but drug abuse offenses are far more common than violent ones. Berry received his own DUI charge last month.
In a show of something akin to transparency the NFL has released a list of NFL players arrested thus far in 2012. I have mixed feelings about the list being released with the biggest gripe being that no context was given. I think when you release a list like this you should mention how the NFL stacks up vs. other leagues and the general public, and whether there has been an increase or decrease in arrests compared to this time last year. On the other hand, I suppose you can argue for information to be “posted without comment” to allow folks to draw their own conclusions.
The Detroit Lions have already been the talk of the off season so this list will reveal nothing new. The biggest thing I took away from the list is the number of DUI/DWIs (11) which were by far the most common offense with marijuana possession being second. I’ve blogged about this before but athletes who suffer from substance abuse are not uncommon.
First of all, there are too many people in this country driving under the influence. We all know people who do that stuff on a regular basis. They may not be “drunk” but their blood alcohol level is certainly over the legal limit. People may not realize that it takes a lot less alcohol than you would think to be considered under the influence as far as the law is concerned. So in this respect players are committing a crime that is just way too common across the board.
But to speak specifically to athletes they often have more pressure to contend with in addition to having been provided painkillers and other “therapeutic” drugs from a young age. I worry that the propensity to reduce getting caught with drugs or a DUI is getting in the way of helping players realize they may have a problem.
I’m not suggesting every DUI is indicative of a problem but enough athletes have ruined their careers by using drugs (alcohol is a drug) or succumbed completely to drugs post-career to give this thing a little thought beyond “x,y,z is so dumb.” I see a lot of people questioning why someone with so much money or so much to lose would get caught with a DUI. It’s a valid question but a logical conclusion could be in some cases they just can’t help themselves. The next move is to figure out why.
Just for context: the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration says that 28-30% of the population will suffer from some mental health OR substance abuse issue. The cycle of punishing players or even cutting them to “make an example” only for them to continue to struggle with the same issue (on another team) is alarming when you think about it.
View the complete arrest chart on NFL.com.