Roger Goodell often gets credit for holding a strong line and running a tight ship when it comes to NFL player conduct. But the numbers don’t exactly match his reputation.
The good people over at The Big Lead sorted through the data and did the math on the number of arrests in the NFL over the past 12-plus years, and what they found isn’t too pretty.
Since taking over for commissioner Paul Tagliabue before the 2006 season, Goodell has watched the number of NFL players arrested each season spike. While in-season arrest numbers are down — ever so slightly — from 25.6 under Tagliabue to 25.2 in the Goodell era, the offseason arrest numbers have risen drastically.
During Tagliabue’s reign in the early 200os (2000-2006 to be exact), the average number of offseason arrests was at 17.7, but under Goodell that number has jumped to 28.5. That’s a 61-percent increase in NFL arrests — a major shift — during Goodell’s time in office.
Goodell enacted a very strict conduct policy during his first offseason as commissioner in 2007. He took a hard-line stance on then Tennessee Titans cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones, suspending him for the entire 2007 season, as well as late Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry, who received an eight-game ban, for their their off-field misconduct. The trend continued ever since, too, as Goodell continues to dole out punishments with little-to-no remorse — a strategy that the numbers indicate has backfired in his face.
The NFL isn’t a more dangerous or troubled place under Goodell’s watch than it was seven or even 10 years ago. There are more players making their way through the league these days and there seem to be more opportunities for players to get in trouble today. No league will ever have a perfect arrest rating, especially not one with over 3,000 players competing in a given season. Either way, the NFL, and Goodell especially, need to do something to fix this recent crime spree and get America’s most influential lead back on the right path.