Contrary to what recent Ben Roethlisberger headlines would lead you to believe, crime in the NFL is down, according to a San Diego Union-Tribune analysis. The study shows that since NFL commissioner Roger Goodell implemented a strict conduct policy in April 2007, arrests and major citations this past year have declined to half the number seen a year prior to the crackdown.
The Union-Tribune tracked 495 incidents in the past decade, citing that NFL players had 44 cases in the past year. The NFL averages one arrest per 47 players annually, which is better overall than the American public, which has a rate of one arrest for every 22 people.
Since the 2007 policy, Goodell has suspended 15 players, which is almost double the number Paul Tagliabue suspended in his final years as commissioner.
Goodell's iron fist isn’t a complete cure-all, however. The league's biggest infraction still remains drunk driving. Twenty-eight percent of player arrests are charged with DUIs, tainting the image of the NFL. All teams have tried to combat the problem by enlisting a ride home program.
The next biggest issue involves disorderly conduct and fighting, accounting for 22 percent of the incidents. Minnesota and Cincinnati top the charts for most criminal incidents with 30 since 2000. The Chargers have 22, including six since April 2007. On the other hand, Detroit and St. Louis have the fewest run-ins with the law.
“The impact of those behaviors, even if noncriminal, are immediately felt, readily apparent and have an obvious impact on our brand and what we’re trying to stand for as a league,” Adolpho Birch, the NFL’s vice president of law and labor policy, told the newspaper.
To see the entire list of 2009 citations, click here.