Tuesday night, during the State of the Union Address, President Obama said, “We need to teach our kids that it’s not just the winner of the Super Bowl who deserves to be celebrated, but the winner of the science fair.”
I’ll be honest and begin by saying that I couldn’t care less who wins the Super Bowl. As a former Clevelander, I would love it if the disastrously terrible Browns were to take the title, but only so the city can feel good. They have harsh winters, loads of unemployment, and bad sports teams. They could use the lift.
In any case, the Browns haven’t made it to the Super Bowl. The teams who have made it, though, both have players who have faced sexual assault allegations.
I’m guessing you’ve heard of the Ben Roethlisberger sexual assault scandal.
However, the Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t the only ones with sexual assault charges in their pasts. Last summer, two women called the police to a resort in Wisconsin, alleging that several Green Bay Packers held them down and sexually assaulted them. Linebackers Brad Jones and Clay Matthews, guard Josh Sitton, safety Khalil Jones, fullback Korey Hall, and quarterback Matt Flynn were cleared of charges after the women changed their stories. Brandon Underwood, however, is currently under investigation.
You may be surprised, like I was, to find out the number of allegations of sexual assault against the players in this year’s Super Bowl. Apparently, though, this kind of criminal activity is just par for the course. (Please excuse a golf analogy in an article about football.) A 1998 study, Pros And Cons: The Criminals Who Play in the NFL, announced that more than one in five (21%!) NFL players has been accused of at least one crime.
Although we haven’t heard about a lot of these crimes, many of them have made the news. Last year, Lawrence Taylor (a two-time Super Bowl champ from the New York Giants) was accused of raping a 16-year-old girl in a New York hotel. He pled guilty to much lesser charges, solicitation of a minor, and will have to register as a sex offender.
Eric Green (former Arizona Cardinal) was sued by a transgender woman who claims he raped her in 2009.
While we can’t assume that all of the men mentioned in the article above are guilty of crimes, I think we can all see a disturbing trend. Rape is a depressingly underreported crime, and with the media that surrounds football players, accusers are probably even less likely to bring charges to a conclusion. It might be a failure of our criminal justice system that people who have committed sexual assault face no jail time, but it’s also a failure of our own personal standards when we glorify these men. When the Super Bowl finally showcases two teams with clean sexual assault records, then I’ll be watching. Until then, I’ll just have to check out the good commercials online.