Are you turned off by the arrests of NFL players?

Leading Off: Hernandez arrest adds to NFL offseason woes

Published: Thursday, Jun. 27, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Thursday, Jun. 27, 2013 - 8:01 am

The NFL is far and away the most popular spectator sport in this country. Millions regularly bet on games and/or participate in fantasy leagues. Perhaps a bigger reason for the popularity, however, is the sport's tough nature – the hard hits, the rough play along the lines, etc.

The Raiders once flaunted their "lawless" image – renegades who did things their way – and Raider Nation embraced them, making them at one time one of the NFL's most popular teams.

But how do NFL players turn that "lawless" nature off when they leave the field?

Apparently, it's not easy – and the NFL has a serious and growing problem.

When Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was led away in handcuffs Wednesday on national TV, it was the 29th arrest of an NFL player since the Super Bowl, according to a database by the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Sure, some have been for relatively minor offenses – public intoxication, marijuana possession – but other charges are more serious, including DUI, assault and worse.

On Tuesday, Browns rookie Ausar Walcott was charged with attempted murder after he allegedly punched a man outside a New Jersey strip club, sending him to the hospital in critical condition.

Of course, none of the crimes is more serious than the one for which Hernandez has been charged, the murder of Odin Lloyd, who reportedly was shot execution-style.

The arrest rate in the NFL is lower than that of the population as a whole, according to reports, but the NFL is a high-profile, multibillion-dollar enterprise, and every arrest brings headlines and wall-to-wall coverage on ESPN.

For the NFL, image is everything – and that image continues to be tarnished.

Today's poll

Are you turned off by the arrests of NFL players?

• Yes, the league needs to do something.

• No, I only care about the games.

Vote above or leave your comments in the comment field; or, go to www.sacbee.com/sports

Wednesday's results

Should baseball demand all its umpires use the same strike zone?

• Yes, a strike is a strike: 87%

• No, it's part of the human element: 13%

Total votes: 135

Call The Bee's Tom Couzens, (916) 321-1097. Follow him on Twitter @tomcouzens.

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