Whatever else Boston Globe columnist Tom Keane might be [July 5 op-ed “The myth about crime and professional athletes”], he sure isn’t a mathematician.
Keane argues that the percentage of NFL players arrested for crimes is actually lower than the national average among the citizenry at large. Well, 29 NFL players have been arrested since the 2013 Super Bowl and charged with crimes ranging from murder to domestic abuse to DUI. Another player committed suicide before he could be charged with murdering his girlfriend. There are 33 NFL franchises, and each franchise can carry an off-season roster of 90 players. That means there are 2,970 off-season roster players (the in-season roster limit is 53 players, but let’s be generous with the percentages and count everybody, including active, inactive, practice squad, exempt and reserve list players as well as unsigned draft choices and free agents who make up the 90-player limit).
Dividing the 29 arrestees since the 2013 Super Bowl into the full 2,970 compliment of every description of NFL player as a pure ratio matter, we find that during this period 1 out of every 100 NFL player has been arrested. To suggest that, in the general U.S. adult population, one out of every 100 citizens has been arrested in the first six months of 2013 is preposterous on its face.
We understand that sports writers write for an approbation in the locker room, and we could conclude that Keane is just another “homer” circuitously defending the New England Patriots, who current have the little inconvenience that one of their stars is under arrest for one murder and being investigated for two others. If sports writers who cover the NFL actually published what really goes on with the teams and players they cover, they’d be out of a job, and we as a nation would be done with professional football. These are the same scribes who uniformly ignored the rampant devastation caused by concussions in the NFL until it became such a scandal that they could no longer keep it off their sports pages.
Ironically, too many NFL players and other professional U.S. athletes are afflicted with the same disease that permeates Washington politicians—a sense of entitlement to do whatever they want to whomever they choose. And it’s paid flacks in disguise like Keane who perpetuate that attitude.