Baltimore Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith was arrested and charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct last Saturday after an alleged dispute at a Baltimore area Green Turtle restaurant. Smith was reportedly attending to an intoxicated woman in a restroom when police and medics arrived. When asked, Smith allegedly refused to leave the bathroom, claiming he was helping the intoxicated woman. Smith then reportedly became argumentative and was arrested and taken into custody by Baltimore County Police.
Of the 20 NFL players arrested this offseason, Smith became the fifth Raven of the group, channeling serious leadership concerns within the organization. The team’s previous four arrests were running back Ray Rice – felony aggravated assault; lineman Jah Reid – misdemeanor battery; wide receiver Deonte Thompson – felony possession of marijuana; and running back Lorenzo Taliaferro – misdemeanor destruction of property, drunk and disorderly conduct. Former Raven and current Jaguars wide receiver Tandon Doss was also arrested in April for disorderly conduct. Smith, who is slated to make over $6.5 million through 2015, became the twenty-first Raven to find himself in legal trouble in the team’s 17-year existence, with charges ranging from disorderly conduct to felony murder.
With this many arrests within a single organization, one can’t help but wonder why these players continuously find themselves in legal trouble. Is it team culture? Is it coincidence? Is it an anomaly? Is it a leadership deficiency? Is Baltimore really as bad an area as depicted on HBO’s The Wire? Some have suggested so.
Football is a tough-guy sport. And some fans might think that owning a quarter of the league’s offseason arrests is “badass,” but in reality it is a serious reputational disfigurement that must be taken seriously. With countless young people who look up to these players, along with the way the NFL expects players to conduct themselves on and off the field, there is no room for the negative conduct and spotlight.
Ravens ownership and the entire front office must look in the mirror and ask, “What can we do?” Some Ravens players continue to damage the reputation of a wonderful organization in a league that has grappled with conduct issues for a long period of time. Until the league gets more serous with discipline, players will continue with unacceptable behavior. Sanctions must be swift and meaningful, otherwise players will continue to be willing to “take the hit” financially. Simply put, personal beliefs drive one’s mindset, one’s mindset drives action, and action drives results. The organizational belief system must change. And that will translate to results. The old adage is true, and we’d encourage the NFL to embrace it; you get in life what you are willing to tolerate.
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