NFL players need to make better decisions off the field

By on April 10, 2007

As much as people enjoy the great game of football, there is no room for players causing trouble as often as it happens off the field. Players like Tennessee Titans defensive back/punt returner Adam “Pacman” Jones, Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry and Chicago Bears defensive tackle Tank Johnson have been all over the news in the sports world recently for actions that have occurred off the football field. The problem is, they’re not the only ones. Besides Henry, eight other Bengals players have had a run-in with the law in the past year-and-a-half. However, they actually are not the focus of the whole issue now.

Jones is a man who clearly lives two lives: one of talent and brilliance on the football field and one of trouble and controversy off it. Jones has exceptional speed on the football field and not only is he a strong defensive back who covers some of the best receivers in football, but he also has great vision and awareness for returning punts.

I remember watching him play on TV while he was in college at the University of West Virginia and I was just amazed with his skills on the field. The one thing he has to learn, though, is to control his actions off the field.

He is currently being investigated for being the “inciter” of a fight in a strip club in Las Vegas that led to a triple shooting. The shooting, which occurred at the Minxx strip club, left one man paralyzed. Since being drafted in 2005, Jones has been arrested five times and been questioned by police in 10 occurrences.

There is no reason why this gifted athlete should be living a troubled life off the football field. All it does is negatively affect, not only himself, but also his teammates and his coach.

Henry is another bright young player, who at age 23 was arrested four times in 14 months for charges such as marijuana possession, a weapon charge and drunk driving. He was also recently cited for three traffic violations including driving with a suspended license. In January, he spent two days in a Kentucky jail after he was busted for letting minors drink in a hotel room that he had rented.

Henry, like Jones, played his college ball at West Virginia, where he absolutely tore it up as a receiver. He has never really been a big name, but whenever he plays, he usually ends up having a real good game that often may include a touchdown. His talent on the field is there. It is his decision-making off the field that he really needs to work on. I mean, why cause trouble off the field when you know it could only go wrong from there?

Johnson, 25, is a huge member of quite possibly the best defense in the league. At 6-foot-3, 300 pounds, the University of Washington product fills up the middle pretty well and stops the run exceptionally well. The only problem is, he is currently in jail for violating probation in a 2005 gun case. On March 15, Johnson was taken into custody in Illinois, where he is currently serving his 120-day jail sentence.

Johnson was originally arrested Dec. 14 on misdemeanor weapon charges when police raided his home in Gunree, 40 miles northwest of Chicago, and found six unregistered firearms. At the time of that arrest, Johnson was on probation for a November 2005 in which he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge involving a nightclub valet seeing Johnson in his sport utility vehicle with a handgun. I understand that an athlete may need one weapon for his own protection, but six is a bit ridiculous. If you are going to have six, then at least register them.

My whole point is, football players need to make smarter decisions off the field because all it does is hurt them, their team and their coach in a negative manner. Come on troubled NFLers, clean up your acts.


About Jared Keene