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NFL 2013: Off-season nets over 30 arrests; charges range from DUI to murder

Former New England Patriots football tight end Aaron Hernandez stands during a bail hearing in Fall River Superior Court Thursday, June 27, 2013 in Fall River, Mass. AP Photo/Boston Herald, Ted Fitzgerald, Pool

(CBS) -- During the NFL offseason this year, 31 active players from 19 different teams were arrested for a variety of offenses, including murder and attempted murder, according to a database of player arrests compiled by U-T San Diego.

PICTURES: NFL tight-end Aaron Hernandez

PICTURES: NFL athletes in trouble with the law

The first arrest came just over two weeks after the season officially ended with the Baltimore Ravens defeating the San Francisco 49ers on Feb. 3 in the 47th annual Super Bowl. Da'Quan Bowers, of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was arrested after a .40-caliber handgun was found in his luggage at New York's LaGuardia Airport. He later pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct. This arrest seemingly kicked off what was a less than exemplary off-season for the Buccaneers and the NFL in general.

Both the Buccaneers and the New York Jets drew the most arrests during a time which is suppose to be dedicated to training and reevaluating how to improve performance. The teams each saw four arrests, with one player on the Buccaneers landing behind bars twice.

Cody Grimm, a safety for Tampa Bay, was arrested twice in Virginia for public intoxication and Eric Wright, a cornerback for the team, was arrested in July on a misdemeanor DUI charge in Los Angeles.

Claude Davis, Cliff Harris, Michael Goodson, and Joe McKnight, all of the New York Jets, were arrested between the time the Super Bowl concluded and the first kick off during pre-season on August 8. Davis and Harris, who were both charged with marijuana possession, were subsequently cut from the team.

A total of 10 players were arrested for DUI/DWI related offenses in the off-season, making it the most common infraction by the players. However, the most notable arrest was undoubtedly that of the New England Patriot's Aaron Hernandez.

Hernandez was arrested June 26 and charged with murder in the death of Boston semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd. He was released from the team within hours of his arrest.

The former tight-end has pleaded not guilty in the June 17 death of Lloyd, who was found shot to death in an industrial park near Herandnez's home in North Attleborough, Mass. He is being held without bond.

New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick has said he was "duped" by Hernandez and called the player's arrest a "sad day on so many levels."

When asked if the Patriots would re-evaluate their draft strategy and focus more on off-the-field issues when scouting college players, Belichick said they already have a practice in place but that they will look to see if it can be improved and modified.

Hernandez was drafted out of the University of Florida in 2010. Last summer, the team gave him a five-year contract worth $40 million.

"Everyone is a case-by-case basis. Whatever the circumstances are on any one individual, you'll have to make the decision based on an individual basis," Belichick said of the team's vetting process. "With Aaron, we did what we felt was right for the football team."

The vetting process, which has become more sophisticated over the years, typically involves delving into players' histories from high school and college. Those investigations involve extensive background checks that include looking into public records, such as court documents and arrest data, and talking to teammates and coaches, high school principals and other people who have been part of a player's life and development.

Tony Dungy, a former coach of the Indianapolis Colts who has served as a mentor to players since leaving the NFL, stressed the importance of the drafting process in an interview with the Associated Press. He said the amount of homework teams do is critical because they don't get all that much one-on-one time with prospective players.

"It's really a matter of what you do with the information and what your organization feels is important. One thing you have to keep in mind is a lot of the [negative] things that happen come when they are 15 or 17 or 19 years old," said Dungy.

"You have to find out if they have grown from the issues, or there seems to be a pattern, or will these issues always be there," he said.

When a player is drafted for the NFL they attend an annual rookie symposium where experts and current and former players educate the rookies about the challenges they may face on and off the field, but some rookies seemingly don't benefit from that counsel.

Ausar Walcott, a rookie for the Cleveland Browns, was arrested and charged June 25 with attempted murder in New Jersey for allegedly punching a man outside a bar just a day after the rookie symposium concluded. Walcott, who had been signed to the Browns May 13, was released following his arrest. He has pleaded not guilty.

So why are these young men who have been given the opportunity of a life time and are making millions of dollars choosing to throw it all away during their time off?

Former Baltimore Ravens head coach Brian Billick told NPR in July perhaps the problem behind the spike in arrests during the off-season could be due to the lack of a structured schedule.

"Anytime you have more structure in your life, things tend to be more ordered, less issues would pop up," Billick said. "And then once the season's over, [players] kind of scatter to the four winds and are kind of left to their own devices."

Now that the football season is back in swing, time will tell if the arrests cease. But so far, it's not looking good.

Early Monday, John Boyett, a rookie safety for the Indianapolis Colts, was arrested on public intoxication and other charges. A police report says he was upset he wasn't allowed into a downtown nightclub because he had too much too drink and when police tried to arrest him, he ran.

His justification? "You can't arrest me, I'm a Colts player."

He was waived by the team a day later.

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