Is anyone else tired of hearing about horrible off-field issues of players in the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, etc.? Following the Aaron Hernandez arrest I have much bigger questions than: why would he be this stupid? Instead I’m wondering if, and if not why; anything was done to help Hernandez since he entered the league in 2010.
Reports from multiple sources say that teams passed on Hernandez in the 2010 draft because of gang affiliation concerns. Following these allegations there was talk of how Hernandez was known to be at least partially involved with a gang in Bristol, Connecticut and according to the Boston Globe Hernandez threatened fellow teammate Wes Welker as a rookie.
It didn’t take long for Hernandez’s quick temper to be revealed at Gillette Stadium. According to an NFL source, within days of being drafted, Hernandez was at the team facility trying to watch film.
When he couldn’t figure out how to use the equipment, he asked how it worked, but got no answer. When Wes Welker walked by the room, Hernandez asked for his help, but Welker said, “Rookie, you figure it out.”
re Welker/Hernandez interaction frm story: Hernandez's response was "f— you Wes, I'll f— you up!" (Globe is family friendly paper ;)
— shalise manza young (@shalisemyoung) June 21, 2013
According to that same article from the Boston Globe scouts were worried about Hernandez’s drug use and character heading into the 2010 draft.
“It was pretty well known that he had failed some drug tests at Florida, and there were questions about his maturity that come along with that,” a scout told the Boston Globe. “You worried about the people he hung out with.”
Now a lot of people would call this a pretty big issue and are asking why players like Hernandez get into the NFL in the first place, but my question is much different. My question is this: Why does a league that makes billons of dollars a year not do more to help these players off-the-field?
Hernandez’s checkered past was well detailed coming into the NFL, but was anything done to help him try and change? Did he receiver any counseling or psychological help or help to get out of the gang and put his past behind him? So far I haven’t heard or found anything that says that he received any help from the Patriots, NFL, or anyone at Florida when he was there.
That says one big thing to me: Football players are wanted solely to win games and anything that happens in their personal lives is theirs to uphold and they will receive the consequences of poor judgement. The problem with that is players like Hernandez grew up in bad situations and entered gangs at a young age. It’s all they know and although it is something that is known to be wrong to many of us it is just normal life for him.
What’s more concerning is that many fans of other teams have taken to Twitter and Facebook to make fun of Hernandez and the Patriots. Calling him an idiot and some showing excitement that the Patriots have now lost Welker and Hernandez in the same off-season. Now I agree it takes a certain type of person to take this picture:
— TMZ (@TMZ) June 26, 2013
But at the same time the fact that this was on his phone and that he was known to be in a gang should have been enough for a team and league making millions, if not billions of dollars, to find him some form of help. Perhaps they tried and it did not work, but it seems as though no attempt was made.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have had there own off-field issues in recent years as well with Ben Roethlisberger’s well known issues, Hines Ward’s DUI, James Harrison’s assault of a girlfriend, and Chris Rainey’s three issues during the 2012 season that led to his release.
Again I will ask: Chris Rainey’s character coming out of Florida was questioned just like Hernandez’s, but was anything done to help him? Did the Steelers work with him or get him any form of counseling? If not his off-field issues, and Hernandez’s, should not come as a shock to us. These players had issues in college, bad upbringings and we expect some big change from them not that they have fame and money?
Having fame and money you would have to expect that off-field issues and opportunities to do wrong would only increase, which is probably the reason we see so many off-field issues in the NFL each year. Speaking of players and their money, though, we come to another issue that may not be as glaring, but is definitely as worrisome as off-field issues.
Why are so many players going broke after they leave the NFL?
I know the answer to this question: it’s because they buy houses and cars they can’t afford or sustain, they buy things for other people and throw extravagant parties, such as Vince Young’s $300,000 birthday party. They do these things for a status level they think they have to live up to, but once the money stops coming in they can no longer afford this lifestyle and they go broke.
How then have the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, etc. not come up with some form of mandatory financial counseling? Or some form of required investment program?
For instance a player who makes $3 million dollars over a short five year career would take home around $2 million dollars. Half of that could go into an NFL hedge fund ran by the NFL’s front offices or a new group of NFL employees. That player would then make around $100,000 a year off of that investment without ever touching the principal money and would sustain a good life after football.
Any player making more would have an even higher annual income. There would be many other things to hash out, but a system that helps the players set up their life for after football so they don’t end up broke seems like something they may buy into.
For instance Chris McAlister, a corner-back who played for the Ravens and Saints, at one point signed a 7 year $55 million contract. He now lives with his parents and can’t afford to take care of his own living expenses. “I have been unemployed since 2009. I have no income,” McAlister said. ”I live in my parent’s home. My parents provide me with my basic living expenses as I do not have the funds to do so.”
That type of situation should never happen and although it falls primarily on the person himself to take care of his money and spend wisely at some point it does fall on the league. The NFL has a responsibility to help these players. Many companies provide financial support and guidance for employees, but with the NFL’s checkered past they may need to just make a mandatory financial counseling program. Sure some players would still pass it off and waste their money, but it should help at least a few players spend smarter.
The big question is: why aren’t these leagues which are making millions or billions of dollars not helping their players? Well, it probably just falls back to greed, which is one of the biggest issues in society in general. The leagues would have to pay more money to help players, which would lower their bottom line and it’s unlikely they would allow that to happen.
Same goes for the owners who are more than likely more interested in winning and making money than spending any money to help their players with getting off-field help. There has to be a way to at least help the players who are willing to listen and that falls on the NFL, the teams (including the Steelers) and all other leagues and teams.
Is anyone else tired of hearing about horrible off-field issues of players in the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, etc.? I sure am. I’m tired of hearing about Aaron Hernandez’s, Titus Youngs, etc. and I’m hoping at some point enough will be enough and someone will do something to start helping these players with fixing off-field concerns and their money issues as well.