What is Behind the Violence Swirling Inside, Outside the NFL?Aired February 7, 2000 - 1:09 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DONNA KELLEY, CNN ANCHOR: All-pro Ray Lewis was supposed to be at that pro bowl. Instead, the Baltimore Ravens linebacker remains in an Atlanta jail facing murder charges. Police today searched his Maryland home. Lewis is charged in the stabbing deaths of two men after a post-Super Bowl party in Atlanta. It's only the latest in a series of off-the-field troubles for several NFL players.
CNNSI's Nick Charles examines some of the questions swirling inside and outside the NFL.
NICK CHARLES, CNNSI SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Last Sunday's Super Bowl in Atlanta may have been the most thrilling finish in the 34-year history of the event. But will you remember this scene? Or this one five hours later: Two men stabbed to death outside an Atlanta nightclub and NFL star linebacker Ray Lewis arrested, held without bail and charged with murder.
While this incident wasn't the rule, it wasn't the exception either. In an NFL season that may be chiefly remembered by the violent crimes allegedly committed by several players.
Former Carolina Panthers wide receiver Rae Carruth faces the death penalty for his alleged part in a drive-by shooting that killed pregnant girlfriend and left their child without a mother. Steve Muhammad of the Indianapolis Colts was charged with beating his pregnant wife 10 days before she died from labor complications that were caused by a car accident. Two members of the Buffalo Bills were charged with sexually attacking two off-duty female police officers in a nightclub. Denver safety Darrius Johnson was arrested and charged with punching a topless dancer. And just two months ago, Ray Lewis was charged with assault for punching a woman in a Maryland bar.
Perhaps the most startling incident that called attention to some past and present NFL players' propensity for violence was the recording of the 911 call made by the late Nicole Simpson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NICOLE SIMPSON: You're going to hear him in a minute. He's about to come in again.
911 OPERATOR: OK, just stay on the line... SIMPSON: I don't want to stay on the line. He's going to beat the shit out of me.
911 OPERATOR: Wait a minute, wait -- just stay on the line so we can know what's going on until the police get there, OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLES: O.J. Simpson was acquitted of his former wife's murder and that of Ronald Goldman in a criminal trial but was later found responsible in a civil suit.
The book "Pros and Cons" suggests many NFL players have a history of criminal violence, documenting that 21 percent of the 509 players the authors investigated during 1996 and '97 had been arrested at least once for a violent offense.
PAUL TAGLIABUE, NFL COMMISSIONER: Can we separate ourselves from society? Of course not. Can we predict when a player such as a Rae Carruth is going to have a problem? Of course not. We can't predict that any more than others in society can predict that students are going to shoot other students or that workers are going to shoot other workers in the workplace.
CHARLES: According the NFL, player arrests have fallen in each of the past three years thanks in part to the league's mandatory four- day seminar for rookies, during which life skills issues, including...
... are discussed. Some individual teams have hired specialists to educate players as well.
RICH MCKAY, TAMP BAY BUCCANEERS GENERAL MANAGER: Dealing with real-life problems of, you know, confrontations with girlfriends, confrontations with wives, trying to intervene, trying to show them better methods to handle problems.
CHARLES (on camera): While many NFL teams now measure character more than ever in evaluating who plays for them, some observers believe the notorious nature of the crimes being committed by players now is a result of the violence inherent in the game: big, strong men whose job it is literally to smash an opponent into the ground.
FRANCK WYCHECK, TENNESSEE TITANS TIGHT END: When you're on the field, it's so intense and it's so violent that in regular life, obviously, you could get -- you would break the law for some -- some things that are -- that happen on the field. So, sometimes guys might have a trouble separating the two and not leaving it at the facility, leaving it on the field and sometimes bringing it home.
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