The events surrounding the arrest of Aaron Hernandez brings up an important point. Is the National Football League in decline because of the behavior of its most cherished resources, its players? Hernandez, the Patriots star tight end was released shortly after his arrest last week in Massachusetts on murder charges. Once again the police blotter surrounding off-season activities is full. Seems as if half of the teams have one or more players in legal trouble. How will affect the League in the midst of the rebirth of the NBA and the growth of the NHL?
The League has always had its share of dubious characters. In the past, players were chided for gambling, womanizing, and using foul language. Yet, the “me” culture so prevalent today has produced new types of citizens, even those who play on the gridiron. Allegations of assault and murder are becoming more common among NFL players. Whether this is the simple byproduct of a more violent society is up for conjecture. The fact is that the League has an image problem because its players and coaches have behavior problems. They have behavior problems because they have character issues.
You can’t fudge on character. Either you are the same person around everyone or in secret or you are not. Of course we are all flawed in some way, but great leaders help those with noticeable, catastrophic flaws. They help them create behavioral boundaries and hold them accountable to develop the needed skills to deal with those flaws in character. I don’t know Aaron Hernandez, but I do know that the League must address the character of its characters and it starts at the top. Great leaders make great leaders.