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  • Writer's pictureZain Masood Butt

Criminals with contracts: NFL players who struggled with the law

Wesley Eggleston | Staff Writer

Athletes should be more responsible because of the amount of money they make and the type of attention that garner. Some athletes understand that and do their best to maintain a clean lifestyle.

Some athletes, however, like to live recklessly and, as a result, have created a bad public image for themselves and their respective leagues. One would think that other players who have worked hard to get to where they are would learn from the mistakes of their peers but, unfortunately, that is not always the case and it shows. Defensive end Greg Hardy of the Dallas Cowboys was given a second chance to play in the NFL after he was indefinitely suspended after one game in 2014 for domestic violence against his ex-girlfriend Nicole Holder.

The banished Hardy was able to sign with the Cowboys in March. In July, it was announced that his 10 game suspension for the 2015 season would be reduced to four.

On November 6, photos of the injuries Holder sustained from the attack were released and the previously dismissed case began to breathe new life. Many news outlets began to call for the Cowboys to oust Hardy but the franchise has yet to address the matter.

When asked about players like Hardy that have misused their fame and power, Pirates’ football head coach and former AFL quarterback Connell Maynor mentioned a sad truth. “Although they have all they have with these million dollar contracts, people still do what they want to,” said coach Maynor.

Last year, St. Louis Rams wide receiver Stedman Bailey was suspended for the first four games of the season for using performance enhancing drugs. Bailey apologized for his senseless actions that hurt his team and, yet half way through this season, he once again found himself in trouble.

The third-year wideout received a four game suspension for substance abuse on November 9 (Week 8), which will be in effect until Week 14. This is Bailey’s second suspension.

“It’s unfortunate for this gentleman that he doesn’t see it. He doesn’t see the blessings that he has,” said Hampton assistant athletic director Donovan Rose remorsefully, talking about Bailey’s issues.

“The problem with professional athletes is that they make so much money, and think it can get them out of anything. And most of the time it can,” expressed coach Maynor. “But when money can’t buy you out of things is when they [the athletes] are stuck.”

Hardy and Bailey are just two examples of the numerous cases of NFL players who have committed notable crimes in the past year. Cleveland Browns’ wide receiver Josh Gordon was suspended for the 2015 season after dealing with three previous suspensions since 2013. Gordon has had repeated substance-abuse policy violations that have included alcohol and driving while impaired. Prior to his troubles, Gordon led the league in 2013 in receiving yards with 1,646 yards.

Gordon’s teammate, quarterback Johnny Manziel, who has been known as a “party animal” since his college days, took some measures to turn his life around in February.

He checked into rehab for his alcohol addiction and was believed to have been largely reformed until October. Manziel was pulled over by police after an altercation with his girlfriend in his car and, while no charges were filed, Manziel admitted to drinking earlier that afternoon.

Former Baltimore Ravens’ running back Ray Rice remains out of the NFL for his domestic violence case against his then-fiancee Janay Palmer in 2014. Rice was suspended for the first two games of the 2014 season and was released by the Ravens and he remains a free agent to this day.

They all have their “demons” that they need to fight off before they not only ruin their football career but their lives. If they are unable to get their heads right, it is only a matter of time before the world will no longer allow them to reap the benefits they worked so hard for.

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