At least 35 National Football League players have been arrested this year on charges ranging from disorderly conduct to felony burglary, a number that alarms league and players’ union officials, reports the Washington Post. “We can handle all the other issues, but this is the one that concerns me the most,” said NFL Players Association Executive Director Gene Upshaw. NFL public relations vice president Greg Aiello said, “It’s a small percentage of the 2,000 players in our league that becomes involved in incidents that do not reflect well on the NFL. We have policies and programs to deal aggressively with those issues, and we will continue to do so. The goal is to eliminate all such negative conduct. That may not be realistic, but that is the goal.”
Some league officials are concerned that all the reports of player arrests could alienate fans and drive away sponsors of what has become by far the nation’s most popular and prosperous sports attraction. “I do not want the fans to turn us off because of off-field behavior,” Upshaw said. “It has happened in other sports, and I would not want that to happen to the NFL.” In a case involving the San Diego Chargers, the Drug Enforcement Administration looked into large sums of money being sent by players to China; officials believe the money was for knockoff athletic shoes that could be passed off and sold as name-brand merchandise in this country. The matter is being investigated by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.