Mike Vrabel's Arrest Is Troubling and Pathetic PR Hit For NFL Players

I really don't think you'll find another SB Nation NFL editor who is less sensationalistic than I am with what I publish and promote. We all do a pretty good job of that actually. But anyway, I just don't think anyone wants to hear me wag my finger at others. We're here to talk football, not morality. I'd normally pass, but I can't resist commenting on the recent story about Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Mike Vrabel being arrested last night at an Indiana casino for stealing bottles of alcohol out of a deli shop. Pathetic stuff from a celebrated veteran. Quite honestly, if I were in his shoes, I'd probably feel less embarrassed by getting charged with DUI than I would an incident like this.

In case you didn't hear the story, Mike Vrabel was arrested at around 5:30 Tuesday morning for stealing alcohol from a deli mart inside an Indiana casino. The former Pittsburgh Steelers draft pick and multiple Super Bowl champion with the Patriots was charged with a Class-D felony, the lowest form of felony crime in the state. He was released after posting $600 bond late this morning. Here's what Vrabel had to say for himself about the incident:

"It was an unfortunate misunderstanding, and I take full responsibility for the miscommunication," Vrabel told ProFootballTalk.com in a statement through his agent Neil Cornrich. "I feel comfortable that after talking with the appropriate parties, we will resolve this matter."

Misfortunate? Definitely. A misunderstanding? I don't know about that. What's there to be confused about?

I probably should refrain from any sort of speculation and stick to the bigger picture which I'll get to shortly, but here's most likely what happened: being that it was 5:30 am, liquor and beer sales were certainly over and done with from the night before and not yet re-opened for the new day. After a night of gambling, Vrabel likely wasn't ready to call it a night just yet and instead wanted to throw down a few more brews.  What's the easiest option? Steal it!

Vrabel's quote screams of -- 'wait, I'm not a thief, I just knew I couldn't buy booze at that hour. Total misunderstanding! But seriously, I'm not a low-life shoplifter.'

I believe you Mike. I know if you had been able to purchase the booze during regular hours, you would have perfectly willing to. But shouldn't a 35-year old multi-millionaire be both (A) rich enough to plan ahead, even if it means paying some minion to scurry off right before stores stopped selling and (B) seasoned enough at partying to know that you better get your party favors in order ahead of time, especially in a conservative state like Indiana where indulgence is curbed by state laws? One would think so.

Obviously you can't tell the members of a union that big to stay away from casinos, excessive displays of wealth, stupid behavior, etc. But of all the guys who you think should be able to stay out of the press during the lockout, it would be those members of the executive committee that are representing the players in the lawsuit brought against the NFL and its owners. In the grand scheme of things, this won't really come into play in the CBA negotiations, and Vrabel's image won't really be tarnished in any sort of substantive, lasting way. But even though most of us fans don't expect these guys to be angels off the field, it really is quite a disturbing incident considering the state of affairs in the league right now. Vrabel didn't need to be tucked into bed sound asleep early or reading legal papers, but don't forget that on Wednesday, a Minnesota District Court will hear the motion for a preliminary injunction brought by the players.

All we've heard is how desperately the players want this lockout to end. Well, there's a lot at stake on Wednesday in that fight. And just two nights before, one of the faces of the lawsuit is out ganking liquor because he's not yet ready to call it a night, sloppily unprepared, and undisciplined enough to wait just a few short hours before bars start serving again. Yikes. Pathetic.

What concerns me though is not the incident. Whatever, I have friends who have done things like that. And I know how much it sucks to not be able to purchase a drink when you want one. What I'm worried is that players are perhaps a bit too casual that this whole mess is just going to magically sort itself out in time for the 2011 season.  Maybe it will, maybe it won't. Again, it's not like these guys can't take the process seriously without enjoying themselves from time to time. But as the lockout potentially draws into the summer months, the patience of fans might stsrt to stretch thin. And I know some folks will be increasingly unimpressed and feel betrayed if their favorite players continue to go about their extracurricular business without stopping to think how the public will perceive them.

Okay that's enough from me! Let's hope our favorite players stay out of the press while we wait for a resolution to the labor impasse. Go Steelers!

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