Have you noticed something about the NFL Conduct Policy this year? Maybe how, it’s working – masterfully, in fact?
Players are not going to stop getting in trouble – human nature won’t allow it. Any collection of 1,600 young adult males is going to have a few bad apples. (Numbers show that the NFL actually has fewer bad apples than American society on average, if we are to believe the arrests numbers.) But what the NFL Conduct Policy has done is empowered, or coerced, teams into reprimanding their own problem children.
We have seen an unprecedented amount of team-issued discipline handed down this season. Individual clubs have taken the initiative to clean up any messes that arise. And it’s not just about players who get in legal trouble; proverbial head cases have felt the iron fist, as well. Take a look at all the team-issued discipline this season. You’ll notice that ALL of the players listed below are guys who have had cloudy reputations in the past.
New York Giants, Plaxico Burress – suspension
The defending World Champions have discovered that their foundation is stronger than their individual parts – including the talented yet roguish 6’5” wide receiver. The Giants suspended Burress for a game earlier this year after he skipped a Monday meeting. They also benched him in the first quarter of last Sunday’s contest at Pittsburgh after he failed to show up for a treatment on his neck.
New York Giants, Jeremy Shockey – traded
The Giants first came to realize that they could survive – nay, thrive – without some of their narcissistic stars when they made their Super Bowl run while the Pro Bowl tight end was out with a broken leg. Shockey’s reclusive behavior during the offseason, and derisive outburst at GM Jerry Reese in training camp, eventually got him traded.
Kansas City Chiefs, Larry Johnson – benched
Four times in five years the star running back has been accused of assault on a woman (usually at a nightclub). Factor in his sporadic whining and moping and it becomes easy to see why the Chiefs have gotten fed up. Herm Edwards has inactivated Johnson for each of the past two games. This ordeal may not be finished; on Tuesday, Johnson went to New York and met with Roger Goodell. To the running back’s credit, he has publicly owned up to his latest mistake and has acknowledged a need for significant changes in his life.
Pittsburgh Steelers, Santonio Holmes – suspended
The Steelers chose to face arguably the best team in football last week without their leading receiver and most dynamic offensive threat. Why? Earlier in the week, Holmes was stopped by police and admitted to having marijuana in his possession. This was the young wideout’s third run-in with the law since being drafted. Holmes has publicly apologized for the incident, though don’t be shocked if he too winds up meeting with Goodell at some point.