In today’s NFL, player conduct is subject to some serious scrutiny. Commissioner Roger Goodell wields a wide-ranging amount of power, acting as the judge, jury and executioner in many cases. Players can be suspended for any number of off-field incidents that reflect poorly on the league or even on-field alleged activity (see: BountyGate) that hurts the image of the shield. So the biggest question with the St. Louis Rams and all of the players with questionable character that this team now employs is just how much does a player’s off-field baggage really mean?
Head Coach Jeff Fisher is known for being a guy that coaches his players to play through the whistle and push the envelope. In the past that hasn’t necessarily meant that the roster he is in charge of is full of bad apples, but with the Rams, it seems character isn’t exactly a prerequisite.
Last year’s NFL Draft saw 38 picks go by (including two by the Rams) before they selected former Florida troublemaker cornerback Janoris Jenkins. Jenkins is perhaps best known for his four children to three different women, but he was also dismissed from the Gators and relegated to Division II North Alabama for his final season in college for marijuana charges. Trumaine Johnson was selected just 27 picks later by the team and he is a player who was tasered in an alcohol related incident before being arrested and charged with obstructing a police officer, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
As if those two weren’t enough, the Rams have now added Titus Young, a former second round draft choice of the Detroit Lions who was released due to his dissatisfaction with the team. Young punched a teammate during practice in 2012 and actually lined up incorrectly on purpose to sabotage the team because he wasn’t seeing the ball enough. His addition came via the waiver wire where the Rams were the ONLY team out of 31 possibilities to put in a claim on the disgruntled pass catcher.
Once upon a time the Cincinnati Bengals were the running joke of the league as the only team desperate enough to take a chance on players with numerous off-field issues. It appears that the Rams are in pursuit of that title now. If this all works out to be fine and dandy and these players behave themselves while under Fisher’s command, the potential is clearly there for something special. If it all blows up and becomes a complete dysfunctional mess, however, there will be plenty of people just waiting to say ‘I told you so’.