NFL’s Newfound Zero Tolerance Policy Against Violence

Two Carolina Panthers cheerleaders were allegedly engaging in sexual activity in a bar restroom, and the duo reportedly then started a brawl when patrons complained and police were called. The cheerleaders were, of course, promptly fired by the Carolina Panthers.

This is, of course, completely consistent with the Carolina Panthers longstanding policy of firing any of its employees who are arrested on suspicion of committing violent crimes. For example, when Panthers player Rae Carruth was arrested on suspicion of planning the murder of his pregnant girlfriend, the Panthers promptly . . . suspended him without pay. They did not bother to fire Carruth until he jumped bail a few weeks later.

Presumably if he’d been caught having sex in the bathroom of a bar after the murder, they might have considered firing him outright. But what’s a little murder when you’re talking about a first round draft pick?

This sort of treatment is typical of the NFL’s when its employees have been arrested in violent incidents. In September, for example, Kansas City Chiefs running back Larry Johnson was arrested at a Kansas City bar after he allegedly assaulted his girlfriend. The Chiefs quickly enforced the NFL’s well-known zero tolerance policy toward Johnson — coach Dick Vermeil told the media that the arrest would not affect Johnson’s status with the team.

Moral of the story — if you want to assault people and avoid being fired by an NFL team, make sure you can score on the field as well as in restrooms.


Carolina Panthers Cheerleaders Fired, Approached by Penthouse.

Panther back office testifies for Carruth. CourtTV.Com, December 14, 2000.

Chiefs RB faces assault charge. St. Petersburg Times, September 14, 2005.

Barry Sanders Inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame

About a year or two before he suddenly retired, I took the next door neighbor to a Detroit Lions game. I don’t remember much about the game or even whom the opponent was. The only part I remember is Barry Sanders taking a hand-off, making one of his mind-boggling jukes, and then like the Flash in an ugly blue and silver costume, he’s suddenly at the other end of the field carrying the ball into the end zone.

Oh there’s one other thing I remember — like too many of Sanders’ games, this one was a loss that came after the Lions had already been eliminated from any possibility of the playoffs.

Some NFL teams have a knack for taking second-rates back and turning them into stars and their teams into champions. Sanders had the misfortune to play for a team and a number of coaches who excelled at taking one of the best NFL running back ever and turning out consistently bad teams. There were a number of years where Sanders won the league rushing title, but the Lions failed to make the playoffs. Pathetic.

Even when they made the playoffs or even the NFC championship in 1991, they were clearly outmatched and outgunned (that they made the playoffs several years in the 1990s had more to do with the low quality of the NFC those years rather than any genius moves by the team).

Personally, I always felt a bit sorry for Sanders. He was the right back at the right time — with the wrong team. Which is why I don’t blame Eli Manning for not wanting to play for the Detroit Lions West (also known as San Diego). It’s one thing to play for a losing team. It’s another thing ot play for an organization that doesn’t know how to do anything but lose.