WASHINGTON, July 17, 2013 — Are National Football League (NFL) players and coaches arrested in greater percentages/ratio than the public-at-large and more prone to displays of public violence as a result of being an NFL player? Is Aaron Hernandez an example of carry-over of on-field violence?
ohn Tauer, head coach of the University of St. Thomas basketball team. He is also a professor of social psychology.
Social psychology professor and head coach John Tauer of the University of St. Thomas (Minnesota) basketball team claims male athletes are “trained to be aggressive; they have higher levels of testosterone” and their thinking is they will not get caught and there will “be no consequences” for their actions.
During the period from 2000 to 2012, the arrest record for NFL players (excluding minor traffic violations) is one of every 45 players. As a comparison, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reports a rate of arrest of 1 in 32 during the same time period for the general American population.
NFL players do have a slightly higher arrest rate for driving under the influence but violence is, for the most part, left on the field of play.
While NFL players are arrested at greater numbers than Major League Baseball (MLB) players, the smallest league of all, the National Basketball Association (NBA) has the highest arrest record and basketball is considered a non-violent sport.
What of Aaron Hernandez? The only people in his life to date that claim Hernandez is well behaved are his jailers. The guy is hell on wheels until he gets locked up then decides to be well mannered.
Hernandez is currently in prison awaiting trial for the first degree murder of Odin Lloyd who met his end with multiple gunshots. There remains much more to be considered.
Hernandez has led a life of violent confrontation with his women, police and multiple violent altercations along the way during his short period on earth. Hernandez is a target of legal action that fingers him as the shooter of Alexander Bradley, who lost his right eye as a result of the altercation.
Hernandez is also being investigated as a primary suspect in a 2012 double homicide.
Based on his previous actions, how surprised would anyone be if he turned up more than a suspect?
Hernandez had a hideaway condo where he stashed the evidence to the current murder one charge. Was that decision to keep the evidence the result of stupidity or narcissism or both?
Here is a guy with a fianceé, child, a palatial home and an NFL career. He was poised to receive $19.3 million from the New England Patriots and millions more from endorsements.
Yet he threw it all away. Was it because of NFL training?
Not likely. Whatever is wrong with Hernandez, he likely brought with him into the NFL.
Mental health professionals around the country would likely hesitate to offer a diagnosis of Hernandez based only on media reporting. No doubt, however, they see enormous red flags concerning his behavior.
Hernandez is accused of murder. If convicted, he will have destroyed his personal life, likely wrecked his relationship with his fianceé and his child, and tarnished the reputation of the NFL.
While observers might be tempted to blame football, Hernandez’s off field behavior seems completely separate from the coaching, strategy and tactics of the NFL.
Paul Mountjoy is a Virginia based writer and a member of the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science.
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