A rant on the Mike Adams stabbing and the "trend" of NFL criminal behavior

Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

Much has been said about the stabbing of Steelers offensive lineman Mike Adams. Should he have been out that late? I think so because being out at 3 a.m. isn't a crime. Also, every time an off-the-field incident involving an NFL player occurs (even one where the player is the clear victim), people immediately begin to question the "rising" trend of criminal behavior among NFL players. I think a bit of perspective is needed in that regard.

Many topics have been broached regarding the stabbing of Steelers offensive lineman Mike Adams last weekend. Should he have confronted his attackers when they tried to steal his truck? Should he have just let them have whatever they wanted? Should he have even been on the South Side at 3 a.m. on a Saturday morning?

As for those first two questions, I can't answer them. I've had my apartment broken into, and I've also had my pocket picked, but I've never been physically confronted by people who wanted to steal my property (like our very own Ivan Cole was many years ago) so it's hard to say how I'd react.

As for that third question, yes, Mike Adams SHOULD have been out at 3 a.m. doing whatever he pleased. Was it good judgment? Maybe not, but in my opinion, anytime you sort of give the victim any grief about his or her judgment, you're blaming them to an extent, and that's simply not right. Should I have had renter's insurance to cover the items I lost during my break-in? Probably, but I certainly didn't appreciate the lectures I received from people when they found out I didn't have it. Should I have been more aware of my surroundings when I was sitting on the bus and had my pocket picked? Maybe, but it still wasn't my fault.

Adams is a Pittsburgh Steeler. And that means he's a target and probably has to watch his every move whenever he's out, and he could have probably picked a better area to hang out in than the South Side.

Believe me, as a life-long Pittsburgh resident, I'm well aware of the South Side. The last time I was in that neighborhood was on a date late last year. It was Halloween, and there were many people dressed up in costumes--including a couple of random dudes dressed as "Superman" who I openly laughed at. Of course, being in the South Side and openly laughing at someone's attire is probably only acceptable on Halloween--any other night, not so much.

A few years ago, on St. Patrick's Day, I was in the South Side, standing at the Station Square subway station, waiting for my friend to arrive so we could join our other friends for an evening of fun on Carson Street. Since it was St. Patty's Day, as you can probably imagine, there were several hundred very drunk individuals walking around--including a young girl who was crossing Carson St. and was hit by a car driven by a young guy who was also very drunk. There was a lot of commotion, but I was off in the distance, just minding my own business and observing the situation. However, I guess I wasn't distant enough for this cop who spotted me and rudely asked why I was standing there. When I said I was waiting for my friend, he screamed, "Get the (blank) up on the T platform!" I did as I was told, but I sure was a little angry because I wasn't doing anything wrong (by the way, the girl was fine).

Anyway, it turned out to be a pretty crazy night, including more run-ins with the police (nothing serious, but my buddy parked his truck in a gravel parking lot, right next to a railroad track, and was unable to move it at the end of the night and had to have it towed as a precaution so a train wouldn't smack it on the way by).

Other than that date many months ago (not my idea), I really don't go into the South Side for my extracurricular activities these days. I stick to the suburbs (Dormont is a great place with many nice night spots, for example), and I've found that they're much less crazy and much less risky. But, of course, I'm 41, and this was all learned through trial and error. Unfortunately, the trial and error for Adams was much more costly for him than it was for me. Having said that, however, let me reiterate: Unless more news surfaces (such as Adams provoking his attackers and actually "bullying" them like one of the suspects claimed), he did absolutely nothing wrong.

Now, as for Part II of my rant.

It's no secret that the Steelers have had their share of off-the-field incidents lately. I won't rehash them because most probably know what they are, but anytime something happens, such as the attack on Adams last weekend, the behavior of NFL players immediately comes into question. For example, one of the tweets from Pittsburgh radio personality Mark Madden asked why so many Steelers have been getting into trouble and why these sorts of things don't to happen to Penguins and Pirates players:

Was Adams in any way at fault? Who knows? But it didn't happen to a Penguin, or a Pirate...AND IT NEVER DOES. It happened to a Steeler.

That really shouldn't be a surprise. Madden has an agenda against the Steelers, always has and probably always will. Plus, he's sort of a heel personality, and since the Steelers are the biggest sports deal in Pittsburgh, he has gotten a lot of mileage out of his anti-Steelers agenda.

For the record, I enjoy listening to Madden and think he's quite entertaining. And some of the things he talks about (like how the local media goes out of its way to keep the Steelers happy) is probably right on point. And, unfortunately, regardless of his obnoxious, smarmy delivery, Madden represents a larger segment of the population that has been questioning the actions of NFL players as a whole in recent years.

Every off-the-field incident, such as the domestic dispute involving former Steeler Chris Rainey, further reinforces the sentiment that criminal behavior among NFL players is becoming an epidemic. I just think we need to take a step back and gain a bit of perspective.

So why, for example, do "so many" Steelers get caught up in off-the-field issues compared to the Pirates and Penguins? Maybe there's a deeper sociological reason that I'm simply not smart enough to research, but if you go by simple mathematics, an NFL roster has 53 players, compared to 23 for an NHL roster and 25 for an MLB roster. It could be as simple as more players=more chances of getting into trouble.

But I'm not even going to go there, because, in my personal opinion, criminal behavior isn't running rampant in the NFL. On average, how many NFL players get into trouble every year compared to the number of players in the league? Again, there are 53 players on an NFL roster, and if you multiply that by 32 teams, that's 1696 players. For the sake of argument, if you say there are three incidents per team each season, that's 96--or way less than one percent of the player population.

I think it's unfair to the vast majority of NFL players when the league gets labeled as having such a criminal problem. For every Santonio Holmes who's had several brushes with the law, there are dozens of NFL receivers who quietly represent their teams and their league in an honorable way.

For every Adam "Pacman" Jones, there are many defensive backs, such as Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu, who not only stay out of legal trouble, they take the time to embrace their fans and give back to the community.

While there are several former players who have experienced heart-ache and legal issues since their playing days--including highly-publicized draft-bust Ryan Leaf and former Browns star Bernie Kosar--I'm pretty sure guys like Charlie Batch, Jerome Bettis, Aaron Smith and Alan Faneca will go on to lead stable and well-adjusted post-football lives and be at many Steeler reunions throughout the years.

I'll bet if you polled 1696 random people walking down the street, you'd probably find that AT LEAST 96 of them have been involved with some sketchy behavior at one time or another.

You might say, "But NFL players have an obligation to behave a certain way. They represent their teams!" What about the rest of us? Don't we have a certain obligation to act a certain way? Aren't we representing our friends and family every time we get into trouble?

The only difference between your average citizen and a professional athlete is they're getting paid millions for playing sports. This doesn't mean they're immune to being human or to making mistakes. Money can solve a lot of problems, but it can't keep you from having family troubles or emotional problems.

I obviously love the NFL, and take great offense to this type of attitude regarding its players. But I don't let it get under my skin too much (kind of a contradictory statement considering I'm ranting about it), but so many fans do, and they let fans from other teams dictate how they should feel about their Black and Gold heroes: "How can you cheer for the Steelers when they have an accused rapist as their quarterback?"

Some fans feel personally embarrassed when off-the-field issues arise, such as the Ben Roethlisberger allegations from several years ago, or the Alameda Ta'amu arrest from a season ago. Not me. You know how they say "a few bad apples will spoil the bunch"? While that might be true for fruit, it's not true when you're talking about a few Steelers "bad apples" over the course of a number of years.

And besides, I love the Steelers, but what they do off the field is no reflection on me. Why should I let it ruin my fun on Sunday afternoons? Alec Balwin may be a rude, angry jackass most of the time, but that didn't stop me from enjoying the show "30 Rock."

When you start seeing the percentage of NFL players who get into trouble match those of the general population, I might feel embarrassed by being a Steelers fan. But until that happens, I will save my embarrassment for losses to the Titans and Browns.

End of rant.

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