We’ve all seen the messages this week about being safe during the Fourth of July holiday. Safety is also on the minds of NFL players going on their final vacations before training camp. Rookies got that message hammered home in the yearly NFL Rookie Symposium, sponsored by the league and mandatory for all newcomers.
Along with the lessons taught about money, handing fame, hangers-on of all types, managing time, drug policy, etc., there are also recent and important lessons taught by current and currently out-of-work football players who ran afoul of the law and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Don’t drink-and-drive (Donte Stallworth, Brandon Walker, Leon Hall), don’t assault anyone (Quinn Ojinaka, Shaun Phillips, Cornell Green) don’t bring a gun into a public place (Plaxico Burress) and don’t fight dogs/illegally gamble/lie to the Commissioner (Michael Vick).
These rules are all common sense, but NFL players are like any other segment of society — 99 percent follow the rules, but the other 1 percent doesn’t, especially when there is a lot of free time and not a lot of structure. That’s why ProFootballTalk.com has Police Blotter and Turd Watch sections on its site to keep track of the outside-the-lines issues.
Goodell has shown very little mercy in dealing with players who have gotten themselves into trouble, and that’s the way it should be. “Protecting the shield” in NFL-speak has been the motto since he became the commissioner and some have learned the hard way that Goodell means business. Former receiver Cris Carter drove that point home to the rookies at the symposium.
According to ProFootballTalk.com. Carter said, “I don’t think Michael Irvin and I could have played in the league we have now. ‘Cause Roger Goodell, man. Rog ain’t got no rules, man. … Rog — ain’t no rules, man. If you screw up, like it ain’t etched in stone like you might get two, three games, four games. Rog gonna sit you down, though. And we’re seeing guys get suspended for the first time in stuff that like we never seen before. So if you think the league is the same as it was then and here and now, it’s not, man. They ain’t messin’ around, bro.”
That’s strong words from a man who dealt with substance abuse issues early in his career, only to turn himself and his career around. NFL players of all types — rookies and veterans — should remember those words and Goodell’s deeds as they enjoy their last time off before the 2009 season begins.
(To see Carter’s speech on NFL.com – click here)
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