Not a single player in the National Football League was arrested in September, the first month without a reported arrest since July 2009. After a string of high-profile incidents, the NFL may finally be moving the chains.
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The NFL has taken a hit to its reputation for off-field problems involving Ray Rice, Greg Hardy and a number of other players. Commissioner Roger Goodell, who faced criticism over the league’s disciplinary actions, announced a revamped domestic violence policy in 2014.
“Although the NFL is celebrated for what happens on the field, we must be equally vigilant in what we do off the field,” Goodell said in a letter to team owners at the time.
A quiet September provides the first concrete sign of progress. Ramsey Poston, a crisis management expert and president of Tuckahoe Strategies, said the next test will come in the following months.
“Can the NFL go two months without an arrest, then three?” Poston wondered, adding that eliminating off-field issues will undoubtedly improve the sport’s future. “The NFL has released what I think are really good profiles of high-level players that are doing some really good things. But it can’t be just the 1% of players who are ‘good guys.’”
According to data compiled by USA Today, the last NFL arrest was Ahmad Brooks of the San Francisco 49ers in late August. Since the start of the year, 33 players have been arrested.
Last month also marked just the second month of Goodell’s tenure that did not include an arrest. Goodell began his role as head of the NFL in September 2006.
A total of 805 player arrests have been reported since 2000, which means the NFL has averaged more than one arrest per week.
“Fans have almost become numb to it,” Poston noted. “The NFL is at a crossroads with its product and reputation. If they can get their players to behave, that’s a step in the right direction.”