In the NFL it seems like you can be redeemed from just about anything. You can fail drug tests, have multiple arrests, get suspended for violent hits multiple times, there aren’t a whole lot of deal-breakers. Criminal histories are referred to as “off-the-field issues”. One thing that is a deal-breaker for certain, though, is being called a bad teammate.
Take for instance, the Miami Dolphins locker room situation. To some degree, especially from inside the current Miami Dolphin locker room, Jonathan Martin now wears the crown of being a bad teammate. No matter what he was put through, or what is acceptable for him to have to deal with, he broke the ranks of the brotherhood and went public with locker room behavior. While he’s probably going to be accepted by other teams across the league, he’s probably best to not to return to Miami. Richie Incognito, on the other hand, has been labeled as a psychopath and a racist for the most part and is probably only welcomed back into the Dolphins locker room, which, no matter what side you’re on looks pretty friggin dysfunctional at this point. But each of these guys, for one reason or another, has been labeled a bad teammate and probably won’t have the same career going forward.
Think of the biggest “locker room cancer” you can think of. Terrell Owens, right? Owens was never arrested during his NFL career, although he did have an incident where he overdosed on hydrocodone in 2006 but later said it was an allergic reaction. He also had an arrest warrant for failure to pay child support in 2011, but was never arrested for that. Owens has records that read like a HOF’er as he holds the record for consecutive seasons with at least 6 or more touchdowns, along with Marvin Harrison and Jerry Rice. He holds single season receiving records with just about every team he played for but he’s been on the outside looking in on the NFL for the past two years because he has a history of being a bad teammate. That and he’s on the wrong side of 35, obviously. How many teams would be willing to take a flyer on Owens if he had the same stats but instead of touchdown celebrations and sideline temper tantrums he had just as many arrests or convictions? I’d guess at least one.
Now look at the NFL’s latest arrested player, Kansas City Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe. Bowe was arrested for speeding and possession of a controlled substance this week. He was released on bond and awaits a court appearance in December. The controlled substance, per police, was marijuana. Bowe is scheduled to start in Sunday night’s game against the Broncos in Denver because the team can’t discipline him per the CBA. The team could bench him if they wanted but here is what Andy Reid had to say about Bowe.
“Dwayne’s been a team player since I’ve been here. He doesn’t want to bring any problems.” – Andy Reid
So driving around speeding with weed in the car isn’t bringing problems? Ok. I guess if he did that but wasn’t a team player it would be a different story.
Good thing that San Francisco 49ers LB Aldon Smith is a good teammate too. He was arrested in September for a DUI on a Friday morning, just hours before 49ers practice. He wrapped his car around a tree and blew twice the legal limit. Also there was weed in his car as well. Not only that, but Smith just recently pleaded “Not Guilty” to weapons charges stemming from an incident at a house party he had in July of 2012. Aldon also has a previous DUI arrest since joining the 49ers. He was arrested in January of 2012. Smith left the team following his most recent arrest and entered into a rehab facility but before he did that, he started a game for the 49ers. You know, team player and all.49ers defensive co-captain Patrick Willis was pleased to have Smith rejoin the team last week.
“Since he came in, he’s been very productive for our defense, a play-maker for our defense and to get him back is a good thing.” – Patrick Willis
Seems odd that players don’t equate a teammate who missed practice time and games due to their “off-the-field incidents” with being a bad teammate. If they are a high contributor to the team, that sure as hell causes the team to suffer with that players absence. You can be a drunk driver, drug abuser, and a host of other things but if you’re a bad teammate you have no place in the NFL. Who’s in a better position right now? Dwayne Bowe or Jonathan Martin?