Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

30 May 2007

Bad Behavior By the Numbers

Sick of the Vick B.S., Mike Tanier brings us the VICK BS: the Violent, Immature, Criminal, or Knuckleheaded Behavior Statistic.

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 30 May 2007

46 comments, Last at 19 Jun 2007, 6:48pm by Bobman

Comments

1
by sam (not verified) :: Wed, 05/30/2007 - 11:15am

some people took that post way too seriously

2
by White Rose Duelist (not verified) :: Wed, 05/30/2007 - 12:02pm

Yeah, some of the folks at FOX need to take a valium. Or a humor supplement. Also,

Falconjosh
May 30, 2007
6:03 AM Yes the Vick situation is a load of bull(bleep) and by the way, he is the best quarterback ever, and there going to the superbowl (Atlanta Falcons)

Raiderjoe has competition!

3
by Sophandros (not verified) :: Wed, 05/30/2007 - 12:08pm

I hope some of those guys aren't serious.

Oh, but since they brought up the dog fighting, this morning's news in Atlanta mentioned that Georgia is one of two states where it's legal to WATCH a dog fight, even though it's a felony to actually fight the dogs.

Strange.

4
by Insancipitory (not verified) :: Wed, 05/30/2007 - 12:33pm

1. I would crush and snort Skittles if it ment I could see a Panda rollerderby.

2. Has there ever been a cocktail napkin look at crime rates in the NFL, versus expected crime rates given an affluent high stress population? Intuitively, and along "the NFL makes you more of what you already were" line of thought, I would expect it would be slightly higher, but it might be interesting, and perhaps even useful wrt crafting social policy for early intervention programs.

5
by zip (not verified) :: Wed, 05/30/2007 - 12:57pm

I DONT HAVE NO MATHEMATICS DEGREE BUT MATH IS MY THING. MAYBE YOU CAN EXPLAIN YOUR STATISTIC A LITTLE MORE SO I CAN FIRGURE IT OUT.

haha....are you sure math is your thing?

6
by The McNabb Bowl Game Anomaly (not verified) :: Wed, 05/30/2007 - 12:59pm

Re: 4

I would expect that the NFL crime rate is probably not much higher than the general population. People tend to forget that there are a lot of NFL players and that most of them never have an incident with the police in their lives. Of those who do, the vast majority appear to be drunk driving incidents. Drunk driving is terrible, but it doesn't get people's ire up or make them think that the NFL is a thug league (at least not the way dogfighting, assaults, and gun incidents do).

7
by Chris G (not verified) :: Wed, 05/30/2007 - 1:18pm

Holy crap are people stupid. I usually skip the FOX message postings entirely - after many warnings here - but I have to say the combined sum of messages are almost as funny as the article itself. Great work Mike!

My favorite line is "He has not been brought up on charges and the likelihood has yet to be soon." Written by the very objective (and humorless) Tiffany.

8
by Sophandros (not verified) :: Wed, 05/30/2007 - 2:46pm

Well, at least we learned what J.D. means...

9
by mactbone (not verified) :: Wed, 05/30/2007 - 3:29pm

Re 4:
A good place to look is linked in my name.

This topic of the seeming prevalence of violence among football players was tackled by Chance months ago in an article by Alfred Blumstein and Jeff Benedict. Their article grew out of the book Pros and Cons by Benedict and Don Yaeger, which describes the high rate of arrest by NFL football players and suggests corrective action is needed. In "Criminal Violence of NFL Players Compared to the General Population" (Chance, Vol. 12, No. 3, Summer 1999, pp. 12-15), Chance authors present data that demonstrate the violent crime rate among professional football players is actually less than that among other males of the same age and race.

Benedict and Yaegar collected data concerning arrest records of 509 NFL players. Their book reports that 21 percent of 509 NFL players had been arrested for something more serious than a minor brush with the law. The Chance article calculates rates for the general population and compares them to those of the football players, and concludes that despite what may appear to be a high prevalence rate of arrests for serious offenses among NFL players, these players in fact "seem to have a lower [crime] rate than the comparable population," even though they are members of a profession that rewards violence on the football field.

The article cited is at http://www.public.iastate.edu/%7Echance99

10
by MJK (not verified) :: Wed, 05/30/2007 - 3:58pm

Interesting that all these commenters were jumping on Mike (Tanier) for bashing Vick, but he never actually MENTIONS Michael Vick of the Atlanta Falcons.

Hilarious Blog. Keep it up, Mike.

11
by MJK (not verified) :: Wed, 05/30/2007 - 4:00pm

Has there ever been a cocktail napkin look at crime rates in the NFL, versus expected crime rates given an affluent high stress population?

Except that you'd probably have to compare to the expected crime rate given an affluent, high stress population with the appropriate socio-economic background. I don't know for certain, but I wouldn't be surprised if a larger percentage of NFL players came from lower income backgrounds than the general population, and there IS a correlation between crime rate and economic status.

12
by Insancipitory (not verified) :: Wed, 05/30/2007 - 4:31pm

I think I was unclear earlier. I think the NFL crime rates normalized to race are probably uninteresting, more interesting is all crime (drunk driving probably being more serious than getting into a shoving match with a girl friend given the afluence of NFL players) normalized not by race, but by income. Interesting things might filter out of that when other things are considered, such as the superset of all well compensated professional athletes, and other things like elements from the childhood enviroment. Age they started playing sports, grades, death(s) in the family,etc.

13
by Podge (not verified) :: Wed, 05/30/2007 - 7:17pm

#5

No, English clearly is.

The question has now been raised: what would you do to see a panda roller derby?

14
by Dr. Mooch (not verified) :: Thu, 05/31/2007 - 11:12am

Now can we get a daily VICK BS meter on one of the sidebars of the main page?

15
by morganja (not verified) :: Thu, 05/31/2007 - 5:53pm

I hear a lot of garbage about the rough, poor backgrounds of these superstar athletes. I'm curious, especially since I grew up as poor or poorer than most of them. When exactly were they scarred for life by this rough background? Before the age of 7 or eight, kids really don't know what kind of background they are from. By the time these kids are 13 or so, they are superstar athletes pampered beyond belief by coaches and community. Are they really claiming that the brief experience of living in a poor neighborhood from the age of 8 to 13 justifies or explains their actions? What is it about pacman Jones or Michael Vicks' background during those 5 years that explains why they choose to act the way they do when the vast majority of players from the same background and same economic situation choose to act like men?

16
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 05/31/2007 - 9:59pm

Before the age of 7 or eight, kids really don’t know what kind of background they are from. By the time these kids are 13 or so, they are superstar athletes pampered beyond belief by coaches and community.

If I may:

You might want to change "by the time these kids are 13 or so" to "by the time a lot of these kids are 13 or so," and you also might want to try backing some of that up. If you've ever read details on some of the athletes, you might realize that you're extremely, extremely insulting some of them who have had a very, very hard life.

I'm sure you're right about many of them. But unless you know the story about every one, I really would suggest using more ambiguous phrasing. Just to list one (who's not in the NFL yet, mind you, but will be very shortly) - when he was 13, Michael Oher was still bouncing between foster homes, his mother was still a crack addict, and it was still a few years before his father would be murdered.

17
by morganja (not verified) :: Thu, 05/31/2007 - 10:26pm

Re: 16
Actually I find it very insulting to me that these clowns claim that their 'hard lives in the ghetto' led them to these actions when in fact they have had at the very most, extremely short periods of their lives which could be considered difficult. Maybe I missed something in my neighborhood, but in which neighborhoods in the universe are the largest, most athletic kids the victims?

Some individuals have had horrible things happen to them. But if that is the cause of their behavior it has little to do with growing up in the poor neighborhood. Some of the friends that I grew up with endured much worse things than any of these idiots ever went through and have managed to put their lives together and become good men. But they had to struggle with real abuse and real poverty, not the pampering these spoiled little brats had through high school and college and the instant wealth and fame in the NFL.
Poverty sucks. These guys barely got acquainted with it before they were super-stars. Its an insult to all of us who have overcome poverty, and the millions who never do, when these prima donnas justify their harmful actions through this ploy.

18
by The McNabb Bowl Game Anomaly (not verified) :: Thu, 05/31/2007 - 10:32pm

All this discussion of socio-economic status, race, high-stress evironments and rewarded violence is interesting but pointless. What we're talking about here is the perception that the NFL is full of violent criminals. The people perceiving that (fans and possibly media) are not taking into account those factors, regardless of their importance. They are not saying "The NFL is a violent, high crime league compared to other groups of rich black men from poor backgrounds." They are saying "The NFL is a high-crime league." Now, I think that if the NFL is demonstrably less criminal than the general population, as claimed by the article cited in post 9, then that perception is proved false. That perception and it's truth or falsity is the only thing that really matters, not how the NFL crime rate compares to similar populations.

Since that is the case, the only need for the type of programs suggested in post 4 is if Goodell wants the NFL to be held to a "Caesar's Wife" standard (i.e. above reproach). Maybe he does want that standard, but he could also come out and say "The NFL doesn't need to get better on crime because the NFL does not have a problem with crime in the first place. The problem is perception, and we want to work on that."

19
by morganja (not verified) :: Thu, 05/31/2007 - 10:42pm

Re: 16

And you are absolutely right that the vast majority of them become very good citizens and very good men. That's what makes it all the more aggravating when some of them blame their behavior on their allegedly bad childhood. They actually sound somewhat like Wellesley women constantly claiming patriarchal victimization when they rely on that excuse.

20
by morganja (not verified) :: Thu, 05/31/2007 - 10:48pm

I think you are absolutely right that the problem is perception and it is not with black kids from the ghetto that people are comparing them to. It is with extremely wealthy young men. There is absolutely no reason, in most people's minds, that these rich guys can't avoid any violent crime whatsoever. Drug possession and DUI's are understandable. But getting involved in shootings, murder, dog-fighting and other violent acts is not. The perception is that if you are rich, there is no reason to 'put yourself in a situation' in which your 'posse' is shooting someone or killing your pregnant girlfriend.

21
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 05/31/2007 - 11:34pm

Actually I find it very insulting to me that these clowns claim that their ‘hard lives in the ghetto’ led them to these actions when in fact they have had at the very most, extremely short periods of their lives which could be considered difficult.

The insulting thing is that you're grouping all of them together. Your statements would be a lot, lot less inflammatory if you just made the degree of prevalence ambiguous.

Right now, however, it's extraordinarily prejudicial and insulting. I'm sure you're not intending to include guys like Oher, and to a lesser extent Tamba Hali, who fled from a war-torn third-world country, but right now, you are.

22
by coyotl666 (not verified) :: Thu, 05/31/2007 - 11:52pm

y'know, this has nowt to do with socio-economic class or any of the usual buzzwords. i were a fan of m vick. no more. the sooner the sick fuck is removed from me sight, the better. if i were a spitefull animal i'd wish him the same fate he allowed his dogs. he should be grateful that i, like most others, am willing to give him another chance - just not in the limelight, please

23
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Fri, 06/01/2007 - 2:36am

I'm too lazy to look up the details, but I'm pretty sure I remember reading somewhere recently that the arrest rate for NFL players had skyrocketed within the last few years - as in, more than doubled, since some time more recent than the study mentioned above. If that is so, the study's findings may no longer hold.

Moreover, as alluded to above, there is a standard lower than "above reproach", but potentially much higher than "average for their social (or whatever) background" - "better (or at least no worse) than other sports leagues". That seems like quite a reasonable goal for the league.

24
by Insancipitory (not verified) :: Fri, 06/01/2007 - 8:11am

I think there's an amount of useful 'free' information to be gleened from athletics. It's one of the few endeavors where natural talent will only rarely slip through the cracks. As such, it's super achievers (anyone playing at an NFL level even on a practice squad is something of a super achiever) can illuminate for us some aspects of the social ills. Which tend to be expensive. Being clever, should we choose to be also diligent, we may learn address some of these with timely prevention and not only reduce costs we all pay, but recover opportunity costs which may enrich us further. But all I see are race normalizations, which seem so obvious they're not even interesting questions to ask.

25
by Josh (not verified) :: Fri, 06/01/2007 - 10:12am

One of my favorite comments from over there:

Hahahahahahaha @ souprfishl!!! Uh, genius? The fact that he threw fewer passes overall also means that he threw a higher percentage of TD passes than virtually every other QB in the league. Now correct me if I'm wrong, since I'm so dumb, but aren't TD passes the most important kind of pass in football?? Nice try, though, jacka$$. I guess you and Merlin failed the same Statistics course.

26
by MJK (not verified) :: Fri, 06/01/2007 - 12:55pm

if i were a spitefull animal i’d wish him the same fate he allowed his dogs.

That's a great idea. The new punishment for any pro football player caught sponsoring dogfighting will not be forcing him to take part in XFL-style scrimmages! Or maybe make them be a RB for Herm Edwards...

morganja:

You may be right for many athletes. Never having been a star athlete myself, I don't know what it's like to start getting pampered because of athletic ability. However, never having been a poor black boy growing up in the inner city, I don't know what that's like, either. So I try not to make generalizations. As Pat indicated, there are certainly athletes out there who did have to struggle to beat the odds, and their perception of normal behavior is almost certainly not the same as your or my perception. I reccommend reading The Blind Side by Michael Lewis (of Moneyball fame).

27
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Fri, 06/01/2007 - 4:02pm

"I reccommend reading The Blind Side by Michael Lewis (of Moneyball fame)."

About Michael Oher, who at 14 was pulled off the streets and pampered by a rich white family because of his athletic ability?

28
by morganja (not verified) :: Fri, 06/01/2007 - 4:09pm

I don't think I am 'grouping them all together'.
I am referring specifically to the small subset of athletes who get in trouble with violent crime AND claim that their poor background led them to make those decisions.

As I pointed out, the vast majority of athletes from the same social-economic background manage to lead exemplary lives.

I worked under the power lines with a guy who had grown up in a refugee camp in Liberia. Some of his friends had their hands chopped off for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. He lived in constant fear. Yet he, like most of the athletes in the NFL, had managed as an adult, to still choose not to get involved with criminal violence.
I'm just tired of hearing this bogus excuse for some people's behavior.

29
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 06/01/2007 - 4:54pm

About Michael Oher, who at 14 was pulled off the streets and pampered by a rich white family because of his athletic ability?

1) Yes, because living basically on the streets until you're a teenager, then having your father murdered is the easy life. No way it could scar him, right?

2) Do you know the family? If not, I really wouldn't suggest claiming that you know the reason for their altruism. It's insulting.

I am referring specifically to the small subset of athletes who get in trouble with violent crime AND claim that their poor background led them to make those decisions.

That's not what it started off as. It started off as:

I hear a lot of garbage about the rough, poor backgrounds of these superstar athletes. I’m curious, especially since I grew up as poor or poorer than most of them. When exactly were they scarred for life by this rough background?

Hence my original statement. If you want to qualify it to just Vick, Jones, and maybe a few others to be named later, that's a heckuva lot different.

30
by kibbles (not verified) :: Fri, 06/01/2007 - 6:38pm

Re #23: I’m too lazy to look up the details, but I’m pretty sure I remember reading somewhere recently that the arrest rate for NFL players had skyrocketed within the last few years - as in, more than doubled, since some time more recent than the study mentioned above. If that is so, the study’s findings may no longer hold.

I actually did a little bit of research on this subject recently. From what I found (from several different sources), during the last calender year (either from December 2005 to December 2006 or from February 2006 to February 2007, depending on the source) anywhere between 30-40 NFL players were convicted of a crime. Given that there are at least 1696 NFL players in the league at any given time (32 teams * 53-man rosters), not counting all of the transient players who get cut or added during the season, as well as those that don't make it out of preseason, and at least 224 more practice squadders, that's at most 2.36% of the NFL population (using the 40 convictions and 1696 players figures). If you calculate it with everyone who is on an NFL team during that span and use the 30 players figure, you're looking at something closer to 1.5% of the NFL population.

When you also factor in the socio-economic background that most players are coming from (which results in a higher likelihood to be convicted of a crime), I wouldn't be surprised to see the NFL coming off with a lower rate of conviction than the population as a whole. When you also factor in all of the charitable work contributed by the NFL (far more than the population as a whole- I suspect more even than similar earners in other professions), I don't think it's that much of a stretch to say that America wouldn't be such a horrible place after all if we all just acted more like NFL players.

31
by The McNabb Bowl Game Anomaly (not verified) :: Fri, 06/01/2007 - 6:46pm

Kibbles,

You would never make it in sports talk radio. (I mean that as a compliment.)

32
by Pat F. (not verified) :: Sat, 06/02/2007 - 3:00am

Off topic... I just saw that Odell Thurman was sentenced to 6 days in rehab for driving drunk last year. Six days in rehab. Does that strike anyone else as....not useful?

33
by Insancipitory (not verified) :: Sat, 06/02/2007 - 6:34am

Well, it better be for his sake, because that 2 years probation is for real.

34
by morganja (not verified) :: Sat, 06/02/2007 - 4:22pm

I see our disagreement and you are right. When I referred to 'these superstar athletes' I was referring to the group I later defined, those that get in trouble with violent crime and then blame their actions on their rough backgrounds. Since the article was discussing NFL players who commit criminal acts, I thought it was clear that this was to whom 'these' referred. Now that you mention your interpretation I went back and can see how that would also be a reasonable interpretation of the statement.

35
by kibbles (not verified) :: Sun, 06/03/2007 - 3:36am

Re #31: Kibbles,

You would never make it in sports talk radio. (I mean that as a compliment.)

Are you kidding? I'd be huge in sports radio. With a few simple, logical statements, I could get callers queuing up for hours for a chance to tell me what an idiot I am- and in the end, isn't that what sports radio is really all about?

36
by Alex (not verified) :: Mon, 06/04/2007 - 5:56am

#35: "I could get callers queuing up for hours for a chance to tell me what an idiot I am- and in the end, isn’t that what sports radio is really all about?"

Yes, but with sports radio, aren't the people calling the host an idiot usually right?

37
by Reinhard (not verified) :: Mon, 06/04/2007 - 1:12pm

You can't compare NFL players to young black men, since they lack a common motive of crimes committed by those other groups, poverty. You can't compare them to equally rich young men, because they won't be from the same background. Both comparisons are flawed.

38
by The McNabb Bowl Game Anomaly (not verified) :: Wed, 06/06/2007 - 1:39pm

Re: 38

Kibbles, you actually do research and then come to logical and reasonable conclusions. That's deadly in radio, unless you're really great. Most sports talk radio is about taking uncommon positions which are unpopular and getting the listeners riled up. You can't take an uncommon position which doesn't upset people or you will get callers who say, "Huh, I hadn't thought of that. Interesting." That's not good radio.

Of course, the best hosts (Kornheiser, Francessa, Patrick and Olberman, Mike and Mike) don't resort to that kind of nonsense. But those guys are rare.

39
by mactbone (not verified) :: Fri, 06/08/2007 - 1:14pm

Wait, Mike and Mike are good? Sorry, I hadn't noticed with all their talk about food, one Mike possibly being gay and the other one being a slob of a human being, and incredibly horifying songs that make me jab needles in my ear.

Boers and Bernstein in Chicago are pretty good and they even go after other guys on the station but they have a tendency to spend too much time making fun of the dumb callers. Yes, they're dumb callers and deserve derision, but I'd like to know a little more about the Bears please...

40
by jim (not verified) :: Sat, 06/09/2007 - 7:20pm

RE 30:

It's an interesting line of inquiry, but if you're only using conviction rates then you're failing to take into account the ability of pro-athletes to be able to afford, not only competent, but super-competent legal representation. Not only that, but there may be other advantages that notoriety brings, such as having friends or bodyguards who might be willing to take the rap for you, or your fame maybe giving you more leeway than the average person.
Maybe comparing rates of being charged with crimes would be more useful, since the ratio of legitimate to illegitimate charges would probably be the same. Although I guess there could also be variables that differently affect the likelihood of professional athletes and non-athletes of being charged with crimes, my completely pulled-out-of-my-ass, made up guess is that they aren't as significant.

Or, someone smart with statistics, like a writer from this site, could come up with a way better way of evaluating this topic.

41
by Eddo (not verified) :: Sun, 06/10/2007 - 11:59am

39: I've always liked Mike and Mike. They actually think about the topics they're dicussing and don't seem to go for the quick, controversial stance. When Dan Patrick was on their show, ranting about David Stern's handling of the recent Suns/Spurs suspensions, Golic was the voice of reason, explaining why Stern had to do what he did (precendent, primarily), and that Stern really didn't have much of a choice. Patrick, on the other hand, was your typical railing-against-the-decision-because-I-don't-like it shock jock.
I have mixed feelings towards Boers and Berstein. They also take reasoned stances on topics. However, once they have come to a conclusion, they refuse to listen to any callers who try to argue the opposite side, often hanging up rudely mid-call. They're grade-A assholes, but they're fairly intelligent and don't shy away from sound reasoning.

42
by Peremptor (not verified) :: Sun, 06/10/2007 - 2:43pm

Roger Goodell = Darkseid? Go fig.

Myabe he should get Desaad to replace his good buddy Upshaw, but then again Gene is doing a great job...

43
by The McNabb Bowl Game Anomaly (not verified) :: Sun, 06/10/2007 - 11:51pm

Re: Mike and Mike

I put them in the "very good" category because they think things through and take reasonable, responsible positions which they actually believe in instead of spewing non-stop hyperbole and taking incendiary positions which are worn like a jacket (and discarded as easily). Probably my biggest complaint about them is that they do a 4 hour show which is basically a 2 hour show repeated. But I rarely listen to them for long enough to be bothered by this.

On the subject of Greenberg possibly being gay (comment 39), he was a metrosexual before anyone knew what that meant. He is also happily married and wrote a book about it.

I agree that their songs are quite annoying.

44
by Anagram Society of Tennessee (not verified) :: Sun, 06/10/2007 - 11:52pm

Roger Goodell = Ole Red Logger.

Also Egg Roll Rodeo.

45
by mactbone (not verified) :: Fri, 06/15/2007 - 2:45pm

Re 42:
My problem is that the guy purposely plays it up. He's acting as a character and caricature. That it's so obvious and disingenous completely turns me off.

I don't know how you can stand listening to them. All it takes is a Vitale sentence or a single lyric and I have to change the channel. Whoever thought it was a good idea for them to constantly make up songs and have a voice-over guy with an annoying voice and no singing talent sing over godawful music should be taken behind a shed and beaten painfully. I understand Vitale is a personality that some people like to listen to so whatever, but there's no excuse for the "music."

46
by Bobman (not verified) :: Tue, 06/19/2007 - 6:48pm

No freakin' way does Goodell have Omega beams coming right out of his eyes, no matter how outraged he gets. Physical impossibility. I'm thinking the Alpha waves have softened Tanier's brain. I blame the ozone. That, and molecules. I have a few foil hats I can lend you , Mike....