Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The NFL has been taking its lumps recently
because of a spate of arrests since the Super Bowl, headlined, of course, by
the first degree murder charges pinned on ex-Patriots tight end Aaron
The current narrative coming from most is that "The Shield" has been tarnished,
but that's hyperbole. For every Hernandez, there are dozens of NFL players who
spend their free time trying to make society and their communities better
Take Minnesota Vikings defensive Jared Allen, a four-time All-Pro who has had
his own off-the-field problems. An immature Allen was once arrested for DUI on
three separate occasions and suspended by the NFL. His last brush with the law
came on Sept. 26, 2006, however.
Since then, Allen has cleaned up his act and turned into one of the NFL's
premier pass rushers. Off the field, he's been even more impressive.
These days, Allen is busy teaming up with the Professional Bull Riders in an
effort to help his own Homes for Wounded Warriors charity, something the
Dallas native started in 2009 to provide handicap-accessible homes and
remodels to wounded veterans who served in either Iraq or Afghanistan.
Since 2012, Allen worked with the PBR as the owner of three bulls currently
competing on the sport's elite Built Ford Tough Series, and has raised more
"This is a great match," Allen said. "I've attended a few PBR events this
year, pulled ropes for a few of the cowboys before their rides and took care
of my bulls. It's cool to get back into that world a little bit."
Allen's love for the rodeo stems from his youth while he grew up on a ranch in
Morgan Hill, Calif., and he still shows it off virtually every Sunday with his
patented calf-roping celebration after his sacks. His deep respect for the
military comes form his family ties. Allen's grandfather and younger brother
served in the Marines.
"PBR and (my charity) have a natural tie-in; they stand for some of the same
principles, God and country," Allen said. "The fact that I can merge my
interests to the benefit of both is great."
Allen, who has 117 career sacks, also serves as an advocate for the Juvenile
Diabetes Research Foundation which raises funds through his "Sack Diabetes"
program, and was among four NFL players sent overseas on a NFL-USO tour to
visit with U.S. military troops.
In September 2010, Allen even gave $3,000 to a Downey, Calif., animal shelter's
reward fund for information leading to an arrest in connection with a horse
being starved and abandoned on a Los Angeles city street.
In today's 24/7 news cycle, which is largely driven by ratings, Allen's kind
of philanthropy isn't going to sell, but statistics say it should.
Believe it or not, there really hasn't been a significant spike in NFL player
arrests this offseason. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune's exhaustive
NFL arrests database, league arrests between the Super Bowl and July 1 are up
this year to 27 from 21.
They are also the highest they have been since 2008, when 41 were taken into
custody. That said, 27 isn't all that much more than the 25 who were arrested
in 2010 or the 23 in 2009. The difference is this year's total is not
overwhelming and remains comfortably under the national arrest average by
nearly 2 percent, according to FBI numbers.
Among young men between 22 to 34, things look even rosier for the NFL, which
has a 3.5 percent arrest rate since 2003 compared to a whopping 9.9 percent
Sometimes the facts get in the way of a good story, though, and news
organizations thrilled by the ratings that the Hernandez scandal has generated
aren't about to play up numbers that say NFL players as a whole behave better
than the rest of society.
That doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement.
"One (arrest) is too many," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told USA TODAY Sports
when discussing the issue recently.
Most crime is directly attributed to poverty, and NFL players certainly don't
have that hurdle to clear. There are no logical explanations for any NFL
player to be arrested save for the facts that young people make mistakes on
occasion and there are a few bad apples in the world.
High profile legal cases often skew perceptions, but don't blame football for
Aaron Hernandez, a bad guy who probably would have went off the rails far
sooner without the game. Instead, take comfort in the fact there are far more
Jared Allens in the NFL.
The Sports Network