By Matthew Asher
Do football teams really need “bad citizens” to be successful in the league? With three straight wins to start the season and two straight weeks with a player arrested following the game, the Atlanta Falcons may unfortunately be proving that Allen Pinkett knew what he was talking about.
A few weeks ago, Notre Dame radio analyst Allen Pinkett commented that in order for Notre Dame to compete at a national level again, they would need to have a few players who were “bad citizens,” citing the Buckeye’s success in the Big Ten.
“That’s how Ohio State used to win all the time” Pinkett said. “They would have two or three guys that were criminals and that just adds to the chemistry of the team.”
Pinkett was heavily criticized for these comments, and rightly so. Regardless whether or not he’s right, these athletes, who are privileged to get paid handsomely to play a game many of us would willingly do for free, are setting the wrong examples in their local communities.
After the Monday Night Football win in Week Two, Michael Turner was pulled over for going almost 35 mph over the speed limit. During the traffic stop the officer gave Turner a sobriety test which he failed and was subsequently arrested for DUI.
Falcons head coach Mike Smith did address the incident and clearly was not pleased with Turner’s decision to drive drunk following a game.
“First and foremost, anytime a player sheds negatively on our football team and organization, we are very disappointed,” said Smith. “I’ve spoken with Michael. We’ve had a conversation and like all conversations with my player’s I would like to keep those internal.”
Whatever went on during that conversation between the two is anybody’s guess, but despite the arrest, Turner traveled with the Falcons that Sunday and was an integral part in the team’s 27-3 victory over San Diego.
The day following the victory over San Diego, Falcons defensive end John Abraham was arrested at Atlantic Station for obstructing firefighters and police during an emergency call. Just like with Turner, alcohol appeared to be involved.
According to reports, an unidentified woman was dangling from the balcony railing at the 12 Hotel. Atlantic Station security, APD and Atlanta Fire and Rescue crews rushed to the scene and were able to talk the woman back into the building, no thanks to Abraham’s involvement.
“Officers roped off the area and they set that perimeter and we had a male come through that tape and he refused orders to get back on the other side of the tape,” said APD Officer John Chafee. “He was ordered by firefighters that were on scene, also by security that was on scene and then by Atlanta police. After he refused to leave our scene, he was placed under arrest without event.”
APD did state that they do not believe the incident with Abraham had anything to do with the emergency with the woman, but either way, it’s not a good sign of Abraham’s judgement. He was charged with two misdemeanors: obstruction of firefighters and police. Abraham was released from jail early Tuesday after posting a $7,000 bond.
Just like with Turner, the Falcons organization issued a generic statement about the situation, which said, “We are aware of the news regarding John Abraham. We are in the process of gathering more information and we will have no further comment at this time.”
Regardless of what both Turner and Abraham did or didn’t do, questions about their decision making definately need to be addressed. While nobody appeared to be harmed in both situations, the consequences could have been much worse.
Back in the 2000’s the Cincinnati Bengals organization made headlines for all the wrong reasons. From 2000-2011 the franchise experienced 35 arrests, averaging about three arrests each year. If Atlanta’s “Dirty Birds” want to avoid being renamed the “Jail Birds,” the Falcons organization needs to take immediate disciplinary steps.
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Matthew Asher is a freelance writer covering all things Atlanta sports related. His work can be found on Examiner.com.