Gabriel: For NFL Teams, No News Is Good News This Time Of Year
By Greg Gabriel--
(CBS) In the NFL calendar, the time coaches and general managers hate the most is the five- to six-week period between the end of OTAs in June and the beginning of training camp in late July. It's during this time that many of the players are away from the training facility and have no daily contact with people in the organization. It's also a period of time when most news is bad news.
Yes, we have the periodic good news events such as the Colts signing quarterback Andrew Luck to a multi-year extension Wednesday, but in recent years, much of the news has been worrisome to clubs.
Take last year for example. At a Fourth of July party, New York Giants All-Pro defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul nearly lost his hand in a fireworks accident. The injury cost Pierre-Paul nearly half the season, and because of it, he's not the same player.
During July 2015, Carolina receiver Stephen Hill was arrested for having drug paraphernalia in his car. Kansas City defensive back Justin Cox was arrested on a domestic violence charge, and the Chiefs released him the next day.
Also last summer, Jets All-Pro defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson was arrested for street racing and resisting arrest, and a gun was also found under his seat. Packers tight end Andrew Quarless was arrested in Miami for firing a gun in public.
It was a similar story in July 2014, with players such as Josh Gordon, John Abraham, Jerome Simpson and Jimmy Smith being arrested in various incidents.
Trouble happens every year in some form, at various times of the year. The most well-known recent instances are former Ravens running back Ray Rice being arrested for a domestic violence charge and Vikings running back Adrian Peterson being arrested on a reckless or negligent injury to a child.
In 2016, there have been 12 arrests of NFL players, according to USA Today's database. One of those has come since the start of June, as Jaguars linebacker Dan Shutka was arrested on a battery charge after he allegedly pushed a women in the face after she refused to give him her phone number. There are still four weeks before training camps open, and NFL coaches and executives will worry during this time.
One of the last messages coaches tell players when they are through with OTAs is to get ready for camp by staying in shape and also to stay out of trouble. Yet year after year, there are always a number of players getting in trouble in their time off.
I can't tell you I know why it happens, but an argument could be made that the players are away from the daily control of the coaching staff and the front office. They're on their own, and they don't have to be at any practices or meetings the next day. With that being the case, some players just don't have the self-control needed to make wise decisions.
Having spent a good portion of my adult life working in NFL front offices, I know how dreaded this five-week vacation period is. It's almost like you hold your breath until training camp opens. An arrest can mean the club could lose a player for a few weeks due to suspension, to say nothing of the worse harm it could do to society.
When players are in their mid-20s and early 30s, they shouldn't need a baby-sitter, but look through the arrest records of the last 10 years and we can say some probably did need one. It's a shame, because in many cases that few minutes of misguided judgement can ruin a career and hurt others.
Greg Gabriel is a former NFL talent evaluator who is an on-air contributor for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @greggabe.
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