Here at the Bear Down we have talked a couple of times about the state of the NFL and how there is an ever increasing number of players who are getting in trouble off the field. Well the NFL is now wondering if it has a lot to do with your background, or more specifically in this case, gang affiliation. Dom and I have had conversations about why there shouldn’t be a team in Las Vegas and about the added temptations that come with placing an 18 year old millionaire in a city that can so easily break you. With recent shootings and deaths around the league the problem has become an epidemic. Well now it looks like the NFL will be looking into the background aspect of these problems by hiring experts to review game tapes in search of gang signs or gestures. This is nearly a direct result of Paul Pierce’s $25,000 fine after an April game against the Hawks. The fine came from what the NBA deemed as a “menacing gesture”.
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With the rise of these problems the NFL has decided that they need to look further into these kinds of incidents within their own league. Apparently as part of the packet given to all rookies the NFL has been including anti-gang information and policies. When speaking on the notion of gang signs being displayed by fans Mike Pereia the NFL’s VP of Officiating said
We were always suspicious that might be happening…But the Paul Pierce thing is what brought it to light. When he was fined … that’s when we said we need to take a look at it and see if we need to be aware of it. (From Yahoo)
From the players point of view Marcellus Wiley told the LA Times
A lot of guys when they get into the league, they aren't actually throwing up gang signs as if they're still active gang members, or were ever gang members but it's just like Reggie Bush wearing [the area code] 619 under his eyes. It's just kind of to symbolize where you came from.
The irony is often the athlete flashing the sign was allowed an opportunity to make it as far as we could without being approached by that lifestyle, that violence, all the stuff that went on in the neighborhood.
We were given an access pass to get beyond those things. And then we get to the NFL and we want to be tough. We want to get to the NFL or NBA and we want to be hard, get tattoos everywhere, throw up gang signs. . . . And those guys know that. You don't live that lifestyle and graduate out of it.
Where I'm from you're not the one that wants to throw up a gang sign if you're in that neighborhood. Now, in front of millions of people on TV in the middle of the 50-yard line, who's going to attack you? Who's going to do something to you?
But you do that on Slauson and Crenshaw and see what happens.
This could be the case for most players and reason enough for the NFL to review tapes, especially after the Darrent Williams incident in which he was killed in a drive by shooting. A shooting that occurred after a nightclub incident in Denver with known gang members. It is another tragic athlete and rags to riches story, but at some point these players need to take note. They need to put their pride aside, realize what they do and who they are and stay away from these sorts of situations. Easier said then done, but maybe a few fines will save a couple these guys from getting in off field trouble.