There is a line in author George Orwell's 1949 opus, 1984, that laments the existential crisis of being the only sane person in a crowd of fools. "Perhaps a lunatic," Orwell muses, "was simply a minority of one." I imagine, as the 2014 offseason continues to plunge headfirst into OTA's and player arrests continue to mount, that this is a sentiment that Baltimore Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh may indeed himself be feeling.
Take, for example, this past week's presser. Though Harbaugh's declarations of "concern" and "disappointment" seemed genuine, if not a bit hollow, it was his use of the dreaded "S-word" that struck me. Watch out, guys! Coach has had it with "the silliness." BOOM. At first glance, I felt the emptiness of this statement rang about the same as a substitute teacher that can't stop his students from eating glue, but upon second thought I saw something else. No, rather than a hapless authority figure, I saw a man perhaps questioning if he were, in fact, the lunatic. Harbaugh went on to mention his numerous phone calls to players. Calls made in order to better ascertain "what the heck some guys were thinking at times." This mixture of exasperation and confusion will undoubtedly give way to further self-doubt should further Ravens players encounter legal trouble. Therefore, for Coach Harbaugh's sake, as well as the Ravens player's, I offer up The 2014 Player's Guide to Not Getting Arrested™!
To begin, let us cover the basic principle of the Player's Guide: Don't do it. It the simplicity of this motto that makes it essential. Scenario number 1: You are allegedly out drinking with your buddies and you come in to contact with a taxi cab window. Do you, A) Pretend like you're a character in Street Fighter and hulk-smash that sucker because it looked at you funny, or do you B) NOT DO THAT? Now I must admit that in writing this, "A" now sounds a lot more satisfying. What's that taxi cab window? You don't like my shirt? FINISH HIM! But alas, having super human strength, as pro football players often do, does not make your life a video game. So the correct answer would disappointingly be, "B."
Additionally, Harbaugh understandably went on the offensive against players drinking, posing the question, "how about we start off with the idea that we're not going to go out and drink?" Woah, pump the brakes there, Coach! Leave the booze out of this! This is a man that just gave a contract to a player who was once (allegedly!) struck over the head with a champagne bottle by a stripper named "Sweat Pea." But he has a point. Alcohol has seemingly been at the heart of a great number of incidents for Ravens players this offseason. Now, I can enjoy a drink as much as the next guy. I once nearly gave myself a concussion whilst leaning out an open window because falling two stories seemed faster than the stairs. (WHERE ARE MY HEALTH BENEFITS, RODGER????) Instead, I suggest when going to get drunk at clubs, casinos, or Bryant McKinnie Party Buses, simply consult the basic principle and DON'T DO IT. I know, I know. There are bouncers to fight, security camera footage to be caught on and strippers named Sweet Pea from whom to receive blunt force trauma! Save it for the retirement party, fellas.
Now, the other talking point that a number of commentators like to trot out is league punishment as a consequence for "tarnishing the shield." But this is off base. There is no shield. It is a logo. And the concern, for you the player, should not be getting some blood on the NFL logo. It should be on not breaking the law. The NFL is one of the very few occupations in the world where an employee has the ability to "tarnish" company image and retain his position. This is a league that currently employs Michael Vick, allowed Josh Brent on the sideline and has yet to punish Jim Irsay in any fashion. So to this I simply say, don't worry about the damn "shield." Worry about being a law abiding citizen. The rest will come later. I am all in favor of second chances. But you should be more in favor of not needing one.
Finally, I offer up a number of more wholesome offseason options. Read the playbook! You have a new offensive scheme to learn so bone up on that zone blocking, Jah! I heard The Lego Movie was neat. Why not go rent that one from Netflix? If you're feeling violent you could always watch Game of Thrones and see some heads explode. Go sink some money into a boat, why dontcha? Sure, a few years from now you could be begging someone to buy it off of you for half the price you bought it for and wondering why the hell you ever took boat purchasing advice from some Raven's blogger you have never met but ignore that! Go do boat stuff! Just not Minnesota Vikings boat stuff because that would defeat the purpose of this Guide. Plus you'd most likely get clocked in the head with a Vueve bottle by a stripper named Lima Bean or something.
Ultimately, we all make mistakes. Some more than others. But instead I insist each and every player in the league consult this handy guide and DON'T. For Coach Harbaugh's sake as well as your own. Being foolish in your down time should no have company. It is important that criminals be seen as the minority lunatics, and not John Harbaugh. So when faced with the option of further "silliness," use your head (not you Jacoby!), stop breaking cab windows, cease with the fights, and don't do it.
Thus ends this years Players' Guide to Not Getting Arrested. I hope we all learned something about not doing things. Check back next year for a lively discussion on Harbaugh's need for an anger translator, urban decay in The Wire, and the role a grand jury plays in ruining a good night out.