By Jordan Kendall, Assistant Sports Editor
The NFL has yet another controversy to deal with, this time it’s Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill. Before the draft last week, video surfaced that appeared to be his fiancée accusing him of abusing their three-year-old son, going as far as breaking his arm. While I believe that Hill deserves a lifetime ban from the NFL, there’s plenty of articles about why he deserves the ban.
You should never hit a child, let alone a three-year-old. There is a big difference between punishment and abuse. Going as far as Hill reportedly has is clearly abuse. Instead of focusing on Hill, I wanted to focus on what the NFL needs to do in these situations, and how they should handle players with off the field issues.
Better Safe Than Sorry
Every year, a few NFL Draft prospects have some character issues and some history of various off the field incidents. While most of them fall in the draft because of these concerns, there have been some in the past few years who never change. One of the most notable examples is Josh Gordon, the former Browns wide receiver who has battled drug issues since college. He was suspended from Baylor after multiple failed drug tests and missed two seasons in the NFL because of marijuana use. Even after getting counseling, he was given an indefinite ban for failing to meet requirements from his reinstatement and has since begun receiving mental health assistance.
There are many other players who have issues off the field entering the NFL, and I believe one way the NFL can help these players avoid getting into trouble is mandatory counseling. As soon as you enter the league, any player with a background consisting of any serious crime is automatically required to get counseling to ensure they change and won’t commit any similar acts in the future. Making players attend counseling will hold them more accountable because if they do something bad again they attended counseling and still couldn’t change. This would make suspensions much easier knowing that a second chance and assistance to change were provided and the player failed to take advantage of it. Playing in the NFL is a privilege, and there are thousands of talented players with no criminal history waiting for a shot who are ready to take the place of someone who can’t get their life together. If you can’t act like a professional both on and off the field, you can easily be replaced. The NFL has enough talent that even losing one of the best players like Hill won’t hurt the league nearly as much as allowing him to continue playing.
Pay for your action
If a player is charged with any serious criminal act like domestic violence, sexual or physical assault or any other horrible act, the NFL needs to make a stand and say enough is enough. Any player who is charged with a horrible crime needs to be automatically suspended for at least one year. This will prove to both the players and fans that the league is serious about handling off the field incidents. Only when the player can prove they have changed and are very unlikely to commit the act again should they be allowed back, however, if it happens again, they should be permanently banned, no questions asked.
Why does the NFL believe some issues are worse than others, where minor actions get large consequences while larger ones get no more than a fine and a few game suspensions? Tom Brady gets a four-game suspension for possibly knowing about deflated footballs, but Josh Brown only gets one game for domestic violence. This makes no sense to me; domestic violence is a much more serious act than possibly deflating some footballs in a blowout victory. Gordon was suspended for two seasons for marijuana use while Ray Rice got a one-game suspension when a video surfaced of him knocking out his fiancé. The inconsistency the NFL has shown in deciding on punishments is yet another problem the league faces, and unless serious changes are made, it will continue to draw fans away from what was once a great league.
From the concern of CTE to the incredibly inconsistent officiating, the NFL has way too many problems as of late. They didn’t have nearly as many issues even ten years ago, but recently a new issue seems to pop up every day. Unless the NFL undergoes some drastic change, I wouldn’t be surprised to see fans turn their attention to leagues such as the NBA and NHL who seem to understand the basics of operating a professional sports league.