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Is Character Degradation a Problem?

The NFL Czar slams the Bengals saying the "problem in Cincinnati is that head coach Marvin Lewis may not have all the facts on a specific player prior to the draft. If the Bengals had an ample supply of college scouts, I'm sure players like Nicholson would have a red flag next to their names."

I'm a big Bengals homer -- I write on a blog for the Bengals, duh! -- but I think the "Czar" has a point.  While the Czar talks about the Bengals limited scouting department and personnel infrastructure, for me, it's the same old story.  I truly believe that class, honor, and how a man carries himself are qualities we all should strive for.  I also believe that athletes that stir trouble with the law should be held to the same degree as you and I.

Fans, for the most part, are clients to a service provided by the Brown family.  And as clients, we want quality people that do the service as professionals.  After all, how would you feel if your bank president has a history of rape accusations?  How would you feel if your child's principle has pending felonious assault charges?  Unquestionably, both would be suspended without pay or would be fired outright.  Again, athletes should be held to the same degree and fans should lead that charge.

There are many that wish to excuse Nicholson's actions -- and athletes in general -- because it doesn't reflect on the field performance.  It's someone's private life, so there's an acceptance to remain naïve; what you don't know, you don't know.

BUT AN INTERESTING question comes up.  What if Nicholson comes out clean and was only a person of interest?  Since he refused to go to Florida initially, law enforcement issued a warrant in the case.  Even if he comes out innocent in this, his past and lack of character will rule him for years. It's the old black and white saying, "if he's done it once, he'll do it again".  

As a fan, we want to cheer hard working players; those that take an opportunity most fans would kill for; all we ask is that you honor the game, the team and make us proud.  

When players embarrass and dishonor their team, it's embarrasses the fan base. The day the Nicholson charges became public, I received multiple e-mails from friends and co-workers -- most of which are Steelers fans -- asking, "are these the players you have now?".  Of course they're ripping me, but I couldn't come back with an answer other than "I hope not".

But this isn't just the Bengals.

Sean Taylor was charged with "three aggravated assault charges and one misdemeanor charge".  He gets 18 months probation and has to speak on the "importance of education at 10 Miami-Dade County schools".  Yea, coming from Taylor, that will mean a whole hell of a lot.

Maybe it's just me expecting too much professionalism among a core of players that are still kids.  They get free passes all through college as "the man" and expect the same lifestyle in the pros.  At that point, should we direct our dissatisfaction with degradation of character towards the coach, the scout, or the owner?  It could be just me.

What are your thoughts?