ARLENE VIOLET - NFL diminished by its pampering of criminals

ARLENE VIOLET - NFL diminished by its pampering of criminals

Sometimes, I think I am being "shaken down." Throughout the state some folks are arguing for taxpayer funded summer activities for youth in order to keep them out of trouble. It seems that if we don't have a pool or a basketball tournament or a teen center for the little dears we are responsible for them becoming juvenile delinquents.

Sorry, I am not guilty and neither are you. We became responsible adults quite nicely without dipping into anybody else's pocket for the cost of entertaining us during the summer. Fie on politicians who try to tell us we are responsible for summer violence.

Another species of this argument is to excuse bad behavior of athletes, particularly if they are considered minorities. The New England Patriots are on the front page again when the team's corner back was detained for a driving under the influence charge. He already is out on probation (which should be revoked) before he starts serving a prison term in March 2014 for assaulting a police officer. Is it any coincidence that both players are non-white? In his book, Pros and Cons (as in prison CONvicts), Jeff Benedict noted that 70 percent of pro athletes arrested for felonies who were playing in the NFL were minorities. He documents the excuses given for their anti-social behavior which range from their being poor to uneducated. The facts are, however, that these 109 players responsible for 264 arrests during their pro careers in the 1990s had a free college education and committed twice as many crimes after their draft as before it. They already possessed multi-millions of dollars for their athletic prowess, so "poor" they were not. The team owners were only making excuses for their choosing of hooligans based on a philosophy of "win at all costs."

These criminals are not misguided youth, but rather players who think that they are immune from punishment precisely because they are a sports figure and the leagues look the other way. Take Alfonzo Dennard, the most recent arrestee. He failed a field sobriety test. Did he go to the clink? No, he was brought to a detox center. Of course, the same treatment would have been accorded to the reader, correct? New England Patriots' player Aaron Hernandez felt comfortable slamming a door in a law enforcement officer's face.

So, now, in another sad sack statement, Patriots owner Robert Kraft is "monitoring" the situation. Some days ago he told us he felt "duped" by Hernandez. Pass the Kleenex. Please stop all of this hypocrisy. Mr. Kraft is a practiced politician who pretends that he is only giving somebody - including past Patriots player Randy Moss - a "chance." In fact, he is overlooking their poor character to win titles.

The entire National Football League is a disgrace. It seems that the only crime that is punished consistently is for gambling, because that offense would eventually hurt the coffers of the owners. The other notable exception is for crimes that outrage people. Fans love their animals, so when a Michael Vick harms dogs, he gets a suspension.

Do sportswriters hold the excuse makers accountable by asking penetrating questions? Mr. Kraft's hand-picked invitation to only a handful of sportswriters to a press conference on Hernandez is an exercise to control the media. From published reports, the writers present tossed marshmallows so they'd be invited to the next party.

Blaming bad behavior on "poverty" insults the millions of people who faced both prejudice and lack of resources to become the outstanding members of society that they are today. Their accomplishments shouldn't be undermined by pampered players.

Violet is an attorney and former state attorney general.