NFL Crime Is Way Down. Is Roger Goodell's Conduct Policy Actually Working?
Fewer NFL players are doing the perp walk this offseason.
Entrepreneurialism ain't easy, man. Sometimes you have a great idea, a seemingly sure thing. Unfortunately, if that supposedly "sure" thing is dependent on the performance (or, in this case, the malfeasance) of others, then success and failure, to some degree, are out of your control. I am finding this out the hard way in the third season of my business venture — the NFL Offseason Fantasy Crime League.
As many of you may recall, inspired by a 2013 spate of offseason arrests (up to and including Aaron Hernandez's killing another human being), I officially created the FCL back in 2014 as a way for fantasy football enthusiasts to have a reason to follow the league and "keep score" during the offseason. The method was simple — draft NFL teams and accumulate points for the arrests of their players between the Super Bowl and the start of training camp. (Scoring system is outlined below.)
In 2014 and 2015, the league cooperated with me. Arrests happened every few days, and scoring was rampant! It was like the crime equivalent of the season that the NFL decided to change the pass defense rules and allow no more clutching and grabbing at the line of scrimmage! POINTS!!!
In that timeframe, though, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, in part because of backlash over his own incompetence, cracked down big on player conduct off the field in a campaign that was part-PR and part-results-seeking. This offseason, the enhanced conduct policy seems to be working, which is great news for society, but horrible news for any shot at my FCL making money someday.
According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, the statistics on NFL crime subsiding are pretty eye-popping:
Arrests are still happening, but not with the same frequency — as indicated by a “days without an arrest” meter that often gets well into the 20s, 30s, and 40s between incidents. The fact that the number currently sits at 26 in the break between the end of offseason programs and the opening of training camps shows that players who are left to their own devices are avoiding trouble better than they once did.
There have been nine players arrests since January 1. Last year, there were 13 in the first half of the year. Two years ago, there were 21. In 2013, the number was 29.
It’s not just an offseason phenomenon. At one point last season, more than two months passed between arrests of any of the roughly 2,000 players on rosters or practice squads.
Houston Texans vs. Arizona Cardinals
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Of course, Florio's mention of the then-current "days without an arrest" streak may have jinxed the league, as later that day news broke of Jacksonville linebacker Dan Skuta's arrest for misdemeanor assault, although to be fair to Skuta, it sounds like there is a decent chance the incident was a fabrication on the part of a woman in a bar.
Still, though, for FCL purposes, Skuta's arrest counts! It's all about arrests, baby!
I type all this to tell you I am happy society is safer, that assaults and murder committed by NFL players (okay, murder by ONE NFL player) are way, way down. However, if some of you NFL players who are in good graces with your employers could maybe drive around harmlessly with some weed in the car or jaywalk excessively — you know, crimes that don't necessarily endanger others — that would be great! It would keep scoring in the FCL alive, and in turn, keep the league from dying.
Because, as you can see from the paltry crime stats below, the FCL is bordering on the verge of extinction. Damn you and your functioning conduct policy, Goodell...
FANTASY CRIME LEAGUE SCOREBOARD
(SCORING: Misdemeanor, 1 point per count; Felony, 3 points per count; Murder, 10 points per count)
LOS ANGELES RAMS ... 5
3/5/16: Rams RB Tre Mason is arrested for resisting arrest, possession of cannabis, reckless driving and failure to register a motor vehicle.
5/10/16: Rams S T.J. McDonald is arrested for non-alcohol DUI.
DENVER BRONCOS ... 2
2/13/16: Broncos S Shiloh Keo is arrested for DUI.
5/31/16: Broncos WR Cody Latimer is arrested for failing to appear in court for a traffic ticket.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS ... 2
2/17/16: Colts LB Jonathan Newsome is arrested on two counts of marijuana possession.
BALTIMORE RAVENS ... 1
3/4/16: Ravens LB Terrell Suggs is arrested for driving on a suspended license.
CAROLINA PANTHERS ... 1
4/24/16: Panthers RB Cameron Artis-Payne is arrested for driving 102 mph in a 65 mph zone.
HOUSTON TEXANS ... 1
2/28/16: Texans WR Jaelen Strong is arrested for marijuana possession.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS ... 1
6/19/16: Jaguars LB Dan Skuta is arrested for battery
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.