NFL and Crime

April 9, 2024 Criminal Defense, News & Announcements

The National Football League (NFL) recently averaged around 17.9 million viewers, embedding it as a central part of American society. While people love to cheer on their favorite teams and players, what is the reality when an NFL player is accused or even convicted of a criminal offense?

This page will provide statistics on football players accused of crime, the most common criminal offenses committed by NFL players, and a recent example case from Florida.

Data on Athletes Accused of Crime

A New York Times report addressed the increasing focus on crime and violence conducted by professional football players. While violent acts by celebrities and athletes were already depicted in the news, it became much more broadcasted after a 2014 video went viral of Ravens running back Ray Rice committing domestic violence against his fiancé.

Based on the data compiled by USA Today, the NYTimes explained that around one in every 40 NFL players is arrested during a calendar year. While the mid-2000s saw NFL arrests at its peak, the report argued it could be due to the increase of media coverage and popularity of the internet.

According to the NFL Player Arrest Database provided by sports reporter Brent Schrotenboer, there have already been 27 NFL players who have either been arrested, charged, or given a citation for a criminal offense within the last year. Out of those, 13 of the reported incidents involved allegations of domestic abuse or violent acts towards women.

Most Common Criminal Offenses within the NFL

The following provides the most common criminal charges that NFL players are arrested for:

Contact a defense attorney with Pumphrey Law if you have been accused of a criminal offense and need representation for defense.

Study on How Criminal Accusations Impact Professional Athletes

Academic journal Violence Against Women published a 2022 study about the way the NFL responds to allegations of violence, specifically targeted against women. There were 117 NFL players examined between 2000 to 2019 who had been arrested for allegations of violence against women. The study found that arrests have more of an impact on players with who are considered “below average” players.

By using the Pro Football Reference value metric along with the percentage of games the specific player started in, the study found that the player’s worth on the field provided a stronger prediction into how long their career will be if they are accused of a violent criminal act against women. 

“I was kind of expecting that the best players, or even just high-performing players, would be exempt from some of these consequences of an allegation,” said the study’s author, Daniel Sailofsky. “But all it took was being not that below average. The top 75 percent of players didn’t really see, on average, of course, an impact from their accusation.”

The study found that teams would be more likely to make an example of a player accused of a crime if they are low performing. That way a potential dismissal would be a lower cost for the team, rather than removing a star player. The same could even be said for a middle-of-the-roster player.

Sailofsky challenged the common claim that accusations of violence against women have enough impact to ruin any player’s career by using the paradigm of post-arrest career lengths for certain NFL players. Only 21 of the 117 arrested NFL players reviewed in the study were found guilty, and even those did not seem to have a significant negative impact on the player’s careers who were convicted. However, the author notes that this could be due to the limiting small sample size.

“I want to simplify the discourse from one that sees the NFL as this kind of arbiter of morality into one that demonstrates that this is a dollar and cents decision for teams.” Sailofsky said. “Do teams take into account the fact that a player has been arrested? Yeah, I think they do. But it can very easily be overridden by other factors that are more important to winning and to profit.”

Juan Carlos Arean, program director for Futures Without Violence, describes sports as a “guiding force of society,” and claims it can have the ability to impact cultural norms. However, he also addressed how there isn’t a simple solution to cover all cases.

“Let’s say that the NFL decided anyone who gets convicted of domestic violence is terminated forever,” Arean said. “That could disincentivize survivors to come forward and have an effect that I don’t think we want. So we need to find a balance, which is not so easy, of consequences that are significant enough for people to want to change if they have offended, or not offend if they haven’t done it, but not so much that nobody will call the police anymore.”

Example Case – Tyreek Hill

Law enforcement responded to the home of Miami Dolphins player Tyreek Hill after accusations of a domestic disturbance. The cousin of Hill’s wife, Keeta Vaccaro, called police after she claimed to hear him screaming at Vaccaro after the two were arguing over their divorce proceedings. While Hill was alleged to have “smashed” an unlit cigar in his ex’s face, the responding officers didn’t make any arrests due to the lack of evidence and conflicting stories.

Additional off-field accusations against Hill included a dismissal following a 2014 arrest, a 2015 conviction for domestic assault and battery against his then-pregnant girlfriend, and a 2019 investigation into child abuse against their son that was eventually dropped. Hill also had to reach a settlement for a violent argument in July 2023, despite police not having enough evidence to warrant any official charges. In February, another suit was filed against Hill by model Sophie Hall, for a “friendly football lesson” at his house that resulted in her obtaining a broken leg.

The following is a statement by Dolphins manager Chris Grier regarding the incident:

“We were made aware of it. We were in communication with NFL security, so I really can’t comment on anything of that we get all our information and find out what happened. For us, Tyreek has been a good addition for us, but in terms of all the off-field stuff, we’ll have to get all the information before we can really comment on it.”    

Consult a Defense Lawyer with Pumphrey Law Firm

Any student or professional athlete in Florida who is alleged to have committed a violation of law should not hesitate when seeking out legal representation. Depending on what you have been accused of, there could be profound consequences in the form of paying fines, facing a jail or prison sentence, or even the possibility of registering as a sexual offender. In addition to the legal consequences that can arise with a criminal conviction, you can also face direct repercussions from the sports team you’re on by getting suspended or even removed from the team.

The legal experts with Pumphrey Law Firm can review your case details during a free consultation. From there, we can discuss a strategy for defense and do everything we can to fight against a criminal conviction. Contact our office today at (850) 681-7777 or fill out the online form today.

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