The arrest of Dallas Cowboys’ linebacker Damien Wilson has caused headlines exaggerating the team’s lawlessness to start popping up.
The six weeks between the end of minicamp and start of training camp are often problematic for NFL teams. During this stretch of the offseason, players are left to their own devices and for the most part are pretty quiet. However, when a player’s name does show up in the news cycle, it’s usually bad news.
For the Dallas Cowboys, this is no different. This offseason two members of the team have been arrested. In May, the Cowboys’ newly acquired cornerback, Nolan Carroll, was arrested for a DUI after leaving a welcome party in Dallas.
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On July 4, linebacker Damien Wilson was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The arrest occurred in a parking lot in Frisco, Texas, after a MLS (Major League Soccer) game. The investigation is still ongoing.
Regardless of the circumstances, the conduct of the player in each situation is unacceptable and should be punished accordingly by the authorities and NFL.
Unfortunately, one of the side affects of these off the field incidents is the headlines exaggerating the situation in Dallas. When a member of the Cowboys ends up in the news for the wrong reasons. Some sports writers are quick to call the Cowboys the most lawless team in the NFL, a title that is objectively false.
Comparing Dallas to the rest of the league
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When articles slamming the Cowboys for their players’ off the field incidents appear, the main argument is Dallas has the worst handle of them compared to the rest of the NFL. In affect, making them the outlaws of the league.
However, the actual figures show a different picture. According to NFL Arrest (a website that compiles NFL arrest records), Dallas isn’t even close to the top spot.
Over the last five years, Dallas ranks 11th in player arrests (1 being the most). Furthermore, from January 1, 2000 to July 6, 2017, the Cowboys ranked 23rd. Of the seven arrests in the last five years, three have been violent crimes.
The increase in ranking is problematic and needs to be addressed. However, painting the Cowboys as the only team with this issue is irresponsible.
Comparing the NFL to the General Population
Another argument that comes up is the NFL produces more criminals than average. People will often point to players with public incidents like Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, and Greg Hardy, and say the whole league is full of criminals.
However, this notion is far from the truth. According to a study done by the University of Texas at Dallas, the general population’s arrest rate is nearly double the NFL’s. The data was taken from 2000 to 2013, with the general population being narrowed to males age 20-39.
One of the authors of the study, Dr. Alex Piquero, had this to say.
"“The data show that the perception that NFL players are overly criminal compared to the U.S. population is false,” Piquero told utdallas.edu. “In fact, when you look at the forest and not the trees, the trends over the 14-year period show that the general population has higher arrest rates than NFL players do.”"
Overall, the NFL isn’t as criminal as some people make it out to be. Furthermore, the Cowboys, whom are often pointed at as the scourge of the NFL, aren’t one of the most lawless teams.
Yes, there have been some bad apples, but claiming Dallas is a team full of outlaws is flat out wrong.