Even with the NFL offseason seemingly getting shorter and shorter thanks to things like offseason conditioning programs, OTAs, and mini-camps, it's clear that a number of NFL players still have too much time on their hands. The result? A constant stream of NFL news that feature headlines straight out of newspaper crime beats.
Unfortunately, we are seeing way too many Miami Dolphins make these kinds of negative headlines.
The latest news broke a couple of days ago when a truck belonging to receiver Brian Hartline was found abandoned along Interstate 595 after colliding with a parked Escalade on the side of the road back in the early morning hours of July 3. It's still unknown as to who was driving Hartline's vehicle when it veered off the road and smashed into the other vehicle.
Whoever was driving, though, could be cited for leaving the scene of an accident - among other things. And whether or not it was Hartline, you can't help but wonder why these kinds of things always seem to happen to professional athletes and not to you or me.
Regardless, this news is just the most recent in what has been a rough offseason for the Dolphins - legally speaking, that is. Ronnie Brown was arrested for driving under the influence back in March in Georgia. His court case was recently postponed as Brown's attorney continues waiting for more case details from the local police.
Brown, though, will not have to be present at the hearing nor would he have to be present at a trial - if that's what it came down to. His lawyer told the media that Brown is "not going to have to miss a single day of practice or a single game."
A little good news there, I suppose. But Ronnie and Brian aren't the only two Dolphins who have gotten into trouble recently. Cornerback Will Allen was arrested for driving under the influence back in February. Also in February, defensive lineman Tony McDaniel was accused of domestic violence. Then in May, defensive lineman Phillip Merling was arrested for "aggravated battery" after allegedly hitting his pregnant girlfriend.
And these five incidents are just the ones from the past six months.
Before anyone climbs up onto their soap box, though, I think we need to take a step back for a second. Does it make the organization look bad when its players are in and out of legal trouble far too often? Of course. Should Stephen Ross be angry some of the players he is paying continue to embarrass themselves publicly? Certainly.
But should us fans care? Should it bother us? Does it bother you?
Personally, I don't care - with one major exception. If a player has to miss any practice time or games because he is suspended by either the team or the league due to off-field issues, I'm going to be pissed off. But that's pretty much the extent of my concern. I'm a fan. I care about one thing - wins and losses. And as long as I don't have to root for any murderers, animal killers, rapists, or abusers, I'll be fine. For example, if Merling or McDaniel are found to be guilty of those domestic issues, I want them off my team.
Other than that, though, I don't care. I just want wins. I'm not looking up at these guys like they are role models. They aren't. Most professional athletes probably aren't role models - or, at least, they shouldn't be. Hell, they didn't ask to be. They just want to play their sport and get paid. And if you are one that confuses a person who is a professional athlete with a person who should be a role model, then that's your own problem.
The bottom line here is simple - wins and losses. That is all I want from my team. So those who are crying for "public apologies" or who say they feel "ashamed" when players on this Dolphins team get into trouble need to give it a rest, in my opinion. I don't want to hear about how these issues hurt the Dolphins' legacy. And I certainly don't want listen to people bitch and moan about how these are more examples of athletes who feel they are above the law. There are millions of people throughout this country who feel like they are above the law. But how exactly does that effect me?
As long as the players I root for are on the field and not suspended for legal troubles, I couldn't care less about all this. After all, if these same players help the Miami Dolphins win football games, nobody will even remember (or care about) what they may have done off the field during their offseason.