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Does NFL Market "Bad Boy" Image?

Jun 27, 2013 -- 10:15am

By: David Levin (@davidlevin71)

Somehow, Ray Lewis’s past has been forgotten. Somehow, Michael Vick’s hasn’t. Leonard Little played football well after being convicted of manslaughter. Lawrence Phillips was not the nicest guy when it came to relationships with women, but he was still drafted 6th overall in the 1996 Draft.

Josh Brent was on the sidelines a week after police accused him of driving with a blood-alcohol content more than twice the legal limit during the Dec. 8 car crash that killed Jerry Brown, a Cowboys practice squad player.

And of course, after yesterday, we all know the issues of former Florida Gator tight end Aaron Hernandez.

Does the NFL have an issue with "character" or alcoholism or drug use? Maybe the “bad boy” image of the NFL is great for marketing and ratings, but it also stains the league because we knock down the great things other players do (yes, insert your Tim Tebow remark here) and we avoid the obvious “good” in players we may deem to be soft.

Somehow, I see Aaron Hernandez being cast as a “bad ass” in the first degree murder case, just like people screamed “Free OJ” and thought the things someone like Mike Tyson did were “cool” because he was the “Baddest Man on the Planet.”

The NFL does not get a free pass for its issues with character. A team overly focused on character (any Gene Smith-led team) and ones who aren’t (any Al Davis led franchise) all have a place in the NFL, as long as there is balance.

Right now there is not.

We have two cases (and I wrote about forgetting about the issues at hand yesterday), in town of two superstars who could affect the Jaguars in a negative way. The State has decided there is not enough evidence to prosecute Maurice Jones-Drew for battery. The NFL feels there is enough evidence to keep Justin Blackmon off the field for four games.

Again, a matter of opinion and a matter of circumstance.

We tend to idolize the guy who is the SportsCenter highlight, the one who leaves his opponent on the ground rolling in pain. We think the arrest record is a badge of honor (Pacman Jones) and still, we don’t seen the line between good and bad.

The division been “good” and “bad” makes me wonder where the line stops and starts. And until there is a true definition presented to the sport (as well as basketball, world soccer, etc.), we are skewed between who we find honorable and disfavorable.

And guys like Ray Lewis, Pacman Jones, and possibly Aaron Hernandez, are the coverboys who youngsters want to grow up and be like.

A win is a win, but a hero is something is still looking for these days.

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