On February 3rd, 2013, the Baltimore Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers, 34-31, in Super Bowl XLVII. All was well and joyous in the National Football League as another wildly popular season came to an end. We should all be celebrating and pumped for this upcoming season, right? Here is a number that shames not only the NFL, but American culture: 29. Twenty Nine, vientenueve, neunundzwanzig; No matter what language you want to say it in, it still means 29. The number 29 represents how many NFL players have been arrested between the end of the Super Bowl and now, the beginning of July. This is a disgraceful number for any profession, not to mention the National Football Association. The NFL, basking in the glory and affection given by the media and the loyal fans of America, repays our loyalty and appreciation with this.
Professional Football players are constantly looked at as Gods by the media and the viewers. Top-notch athletically and filled to the brim with money, they are men who every boy wants to be. What exactly are they teaching young men? Is it that if you work hard enough and get to the professional level you can throw morals and ethics away? If you make tons of money playing a sport you do not have to abide by the rules of society? Whichever the case, the ‘role model’ aspect of professional football players might as well be thrown in the garbage. At a time where the NFL is supposed to be quiet, it is being more loud and obnoxious as ever. From illegal drug use to first-degree murder, the NFL is slowly deteriorating the image that we hold so dearly. In the past week, alone, the NFL has had four players arrested for crimes ranging from illegal guns to, most notably, the first-degree murder charge on former Patriots Tight End Aaron Hernandez. With these atrocious acts being committed on almost a regular basis by NFL players, when will the media stop glorifying a league that has 29 arrests in a manner of months?
In Susan J. Douglas’ article “Girls Gone Anti-Feminist,” she explains how the media distorts the way viewers come to envision certain events or people. She compares the media to funhouse mirrors saying, “This is the mass media—exaggerating certain kinds of stories, certain kinds of people, certain kinds of values and attitudes, while minimizing others or rendering them invisible.” It may seem odd to compare an article titled Girls Gone Anti-Feminist to the NFL, but what Douglas says relates to the media attention of NFL players. She goes on to say, “These media also set the agenda for what we are to think about, what kinds of people deserve our admiration, respect and envy, and what kinds don’t.” We have been bred to envy the lives of NFL players despite the heinous crimes some of them commit. With this recent offseason being historically bad, the time has come for the media and our culture to begin to abandon the copious amounts of attention we give to the NFL. We have put these players on such a pedestal that, combined with their giant paychecks, they believe themselves to be higher than the laws set for the blue-collar citizen. As a society, envy and appreciation should be redirected to public service men and women, such as nurses, police officers, fire fighters and others who truly contribute in a meaningful way to our society. The media should revert the attention from men who throw and catch a football to people in our society who have chosen the profession of coming to a person in need’s aid. If the media comes on board with this idea, perhaps the crime rate in the NFL will decrease and take some of these “Gods” off of their own Mount Olympus.