Culbreath: I hate myself for loving youWritten by Matt 'Shaggy' Culbreath | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Two weeks ago, Producer Dan and I had a discussion over television sports themes.
We agreed that “Roundball Rock,” the original NBA on NBC theme (composed by John friggin’ Tesh) was tops of the list, and pretty far down the list is “Waiting All Day for Sunday Night,” the opening theme for NBC’s Sunday Night Football. While the current version is sung by Carrie Underwood, the more well known performance was by Faith Hill from 2007-12. But it wasn’t until I played the first season’s recording (performed by Pink), that Producer Dan realized that the song was, indeed, a rewrite of another song: Joan Jett’s “I Hate Myself For Loving You.”
After the past two weeks, I think there’s a lot of football fans who feel like the original title is more appropriate.
I don’t need to run down the list of names, or crimes, or various reactions from different officials from inside or outside the league (and at what time those reactions miraculously changed). But needless to say, watching last Sunday’s action felt a little … ooof. Gut check time.
Because I knew I was going to watch. I watched Week 1, I watched Week 2 and I know I’m going to watch Week 3. And it’s not even watching for the enjoyment of watching football. I knew I was going to watch for the sole purpose of fantasy. And when the games got going, I enjoyed what I saw. At the end of the day, I like football.
But I don’t know if that feeling will last forever.
Let’s be real: the arrest rate of NFL players is peanuts compared to the American population. A study in July by the statisticians at fivethirtyeight.com showed that the arrest rate of NFL players is only 13 percent that of the national average. That shouldn’t be a surprise: when you’re making tons of money in the league, you’re not getting involved in trafficking drugs or stealing merch. The athlete’s biggest enemy is the bottle: more pro football players get busted for DUIs than any other crime, and even then, they’re only being arrested at 26 percent the rate of the typical American. So no, the athletes out there aren’t all criminals.
But it also doesn’t mean the league can ignore the issue either. Of the arrests the fivethirtyeight.com study looked at, domestic violence was that which was closest to the national average: NFL players are arrested at a little more than half the rate as the average citizen for domestic assault. That’s a hell of an outlier compared to the earlier arrest rates quoted. And why wouldn’t it be: the lighter punishments handed out for these crimes isn’t much of a dissuasion. Before Commissioner Roger Goodell’s new standards for domestic violence arrests, an athlete could expect, at maximum, a four-game suspension. Compared to DUIs or drug arrests, that’s a spit in the bucket.
(By the way, anybody seen Rog around? Not since he made a complete ass of himself on CBS News? Okay, just checking.)
For those who ask “Why do we have to keep talking about this?” I point you to Florida State University, and quarterback Jameis Winston. Here’s a young man who was accused of sexual assault in 2013, faced no charges after an investigation led by a detective with deep ties to a Florida State booster club, was busted for shoplifting, and then just this week, decided to start yelling an obscene, sexually explicit Internet meme inside the Student Union. Why? Because he feels like no one can touch him. He’s too important to the football team, no one will ever punish him too severely. Sure enough, for standing on a table and yelling a sexually explicit phrase to the whole building, he gets to sit a half-game. That’ll learn him, sure.
The bad news is that it’s taken until now to have this conversation. You’d think after Jovan Belcher killed his wife before taking his own life, the league would have taken a harder look at violence in their players’ homes. Admittedly, with everyone’s focus on concussions and CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), we all instinctively pinned his acts on a possibly head injury. Who knows, maybe there could be some tie-in with getting drilled in the head and abuse and assault. But the good news is that we are finally having this conversation. We’re not plugging our ears, and we’re not just watching the game and hoping it goes away. Just as I hope that Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Greg Hardy, and Jonathan Dwyer can find some level of rehabilitation, I hope the league can as well.
Matt “Shaggy” Culbreath is sports director at Newsradio 1370 WSPD.