Startling in its breadth, Benedict and Yaeger's investigation into the off-the-field violence and criminal behavior that pervades the culture of professional football is as eye opening as it is disturbing. That these guys get into trouble is nothing new, but when their offenses are collected in one place--with mug shots, court records, police reports, and interviews with arresting officers--the effect is as surreal as the statistics: 21 percent of the NFL's players have been charged with a serious crime.
How serious? The docket begins with assault, rape, and domestic violence and keeps spiraling out of control. These are not just blind allegations; the authors name names and match felonies to players. Some of the better-known examples: Cornelius Bennett--rape and sexual assault; Cortez Kennedy--domestic violence; Michael Irvin--cocaine and marijuana possession; Nate Newton--sexual assault; Warren Moon--domestic violence; Jake Plummer--sexual abuse; Andre Rison--aggravated assault; Bruce Smith--driving under the influence; and Deion Sanders--aggravated assault, disorderly convict, trespassing, and battery.
Yet, as disturbing as the names and numbers are, Benedict and Yaeger's contention, backed by exhaustive research, is even worse: the league pretty much looks away, tacitly condoning the havoc caused by these overpaid, coddled men-children, whose very propensity for unchecked mayhem fills stadiums on Sunday. But, then, in the NFL's view of things, football is the law. Make no mistake about Pros and Cons though; as sensational as much of it is, this is a serious work with serious footnotes compiled by serious journalists, who, in the end, do something the game's establishment has avoided: they offer a detailed "Game Plan" for addressing the issues they raise. It begins with respecting law and imposing order. --Jeff Silverman [via]