Visualizing NFL's crime problem
In September, media focus usually returns to on-the-field NFL action rather than off. That hasn’t been the case this year, though -- NFL commissioner Roger Goodell likely will be very happy to turn his calendar to October and leave behind one of the worst public relations months in NFL history.
This recent spate of arrests is hardly abnormal, though. The NFL is on pace to have about 50 players arrested in 2014, right on par with the five-year average (51 players) between 2009-13.
Research engine FindTheBest collected data using USA Today’s NFL arrest database, which dates back to 2000, to create an NFL Arrests topic that can be easily consumed via a series of graphs. The results might surprise you.
Driving under the influence has been far and away the most common crime committed by NFL players. The Vikings have the most DUI arrests (16) since 2000, six more than the next closest franchises (Denver, Kansas City, San Francisco, Tampa Bay, Tennessee).
For whatever reason, wide receivers and cornerbacks have run afoul of the law more often than their teammates. In fact, wide receivers (122 arrests since 2000) have been arrested about twice as often as offensive linemen even though there are about half as many on the average active roster.
With 14 arrests since 2000, on average one quarterback per year is detained. Kickers (nine), centers (four) and punters (three) don’t even crack the top-11 positions.
Since Goodell took over as commissioner on Sept. 1, 2006, there have been 118 DUI arrests, 61 drug-related crimes, 60 assault/battery offenses and 46 domestic violence arrests.
While it’s true that the arrest rate for NFL players has decreased since Goodell took over in 2006, when a high mark of 67 arrests occurred, there are still about 20 percent more than there were in the early 2000s.
Goodell’s vaunted personal conduct policy was instituted in April 2007, but the amount of crimes actually rose from 63 to 66 in 2008 before a drop-off came in 2009.
Interestingly enough, September is historically the quietest month for player arrests.
Not only do the Vikings have the most DUI arrests since 2000 -- they’ve had the most players detained (46), period. Additionally, with 16 crimes since 2011, the Vikings have had five more players detained in the last four years than the next closest team (Broncos). The most recent incident is the most shocking, with charges of child abuse recently levied against star running back Adrian Peterson.
All but five NFL teams have had a player arrested for domestic violence since 2000, with the Broncos racking up a stunning 11 charges over that period. Miami isn’t far behind (eight).