Collegiate and Pro Athletes: All About the Money?

Photo from

Photo from

Calvin Chmura, Public Relations

When thinking of the top NFL or college athletes, whose name is brought up? Adrian Peterson, one of the best running backs in the NFL, Ray Rice, one of the top NFL running backs, and Greg Hardy, one of the best defensive ends in the league. All of these players have had legal issues off the field. Ray Rice and Greg Hardy are dealing with domestic violence cases, while Adrian Peterson has been indicted for child abuse. And who can forget about Aaron Hernandez a few years ago who was charged with a double homicide?

The trend of off the field antics have even sprung up in some of the most prominent players in college football. Everett Golson, the star quarterback for the University of Notre Dame, was dismissed from the school because of “poor academic judgment,” which was right around finals time for the university. Cam Newton, who now plays in the NFL, wasn’t always at Auburn University. Newton was caught cheating at University of Florida where he then transferred to a junior college. And the most prominent offenses have come from Florida State’s quarterback, Jameis Winston. Winston has had many off the field issues, including rape allegations, stealing crab legs from a grocery store, and most recently, shouting a vulgar and obscene phrase in the student union.

For some, money means power, and for those who receive millions of dollars at the end of the year may think they have all of the power in the world. In college, one is being paid in scholarships, not having to pay a dime for their education. College and pro athletes are put atop of a pedestal when they put on their uniform, and the media constantly monitors them. Student and pro athletes are not setting a good example for the kids around the world wanting to be “just like them.” Just because they are someone’s hero doesn’t mean they get let off the hook like the superheroes in the comics.

Many times before incidents were hidden under the table because the player was too valuable to lose. However, this “they’ll never find out” mentality is changing rapidly with the growth of the media. The media has grown so much in recent years it’s almost impossible for people to hide things. Most people have seen the photos of Adrian Peterson’s son in which he beat his child with a tree branch, or the video that TMZ posted showing Ray Rice punching his fiancée, knocking her out. The people of America will find out and the media will scrutinize every aspect of their lives.

Some athletes such as Everett Golson and Cam Newton are able to bounce back from their mandatory time off. However, some athletes are out of their respective sports altogether. Ray Rice’s contract was terminated this year after TMZ released the elevator video. The Ravens were originally going to let it get by, until the nation saw the video. The NFL kicked Rice out of the league indefinitely in early September; six months after the videos were sent to the NFL. Teams will do anything to win, including reinstating a felon after you suspended him a week before. Adrian Peterson is going to have a lasting impact on his son: scars and scratches run up his leg from the switch he hit the little boy with. The Minnesota Vikings benched Peterson about the incident, reinstated, then dismissed him from all team activities until the trial plays out. He was also added to the NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s “exempt” list. According to the Vikings, they just wanted to “get this right” after getting wrong so many times. The Vikings dismissed him after one of their sponsors voiced their disapproval of the decision.

It starts at the collegiate level. Schools bend their rules and requirements so athletes who don’t meet the requirements are able to attend. This special treatment gives players the feeling that the rules will be bent for them once again, and then reality hits them. Why do college and pro teams bend the rules so they have a better chance of winning? Money. If the team plays well, more viewers will tune in to see their team play well. The team is so interested in profit and public relations rather than doing what is morally correct. The NFL, Notre Dame, the Vikings, the Ravens, and other organizations had to deal out consequences to save their reputation. Only after someone voiced their disapproval, such as a sponsor, news station, or even the general public is when they came to a verdict. Sponsors did not want their value to drop so they either suspended or terminated their contracts with the teams and/or players; the sponsors, like the organizations, don’t want to lose money. After all, would you want to support a league that condones giving special privileges to athletes, or would you rather support a league that disciplines a player for misconduct? Supporting them for the way they have “attempted”, and I use that term loosely, to save face would give the league exactly what they were looking for: fans who only care about watching quality football rather than fans who think about what is right.

The college football teams handled the cases well, making Everett Golson sit out for a whole year, suspending Jameis Winston for a game, and making Cam Newton leave University of Florida; all acceptable punishments were administered. On the other hand, the NFL and Goodell have done too-little-too-late. While they may have suspended the respective players, whether it’s until a trial is completed, or for life, it took too much time to make a decision. The cases were not confidential as they should have been, as TMZ has released plenty of evidence. Roger Goodell has handled these situations poorly. Initially, he only suspended Rice for two games, but to save face after the video was released, he kicked him out of pro football entirely. Goodell has been doing a poor job in dealing with the general morality of the league, but of course the profits have been better than ever, because as Jessie J says, “It’s all about the money.” Roger Goodell and the NFL do not take these legal cases seriously, and the rules should not be bent for big time stars because of the impact it would have on the team. It’s time for a change: Goodell should attempt to save face once again by resigning from his current position as commissioner of the National Football League.