Warfield Suspension Damages Turn as Role Model

With the recent suspension of Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Eric Warfield the NFL reminds us that it's not just about the "game" itself. It is about everything that comes along with it such as the player's and it reminds us that the actions of the players off the field can have just as much impact on the fans as their play on Sundays.

We are taught to think about these players as role models for our youth. Some base that on the fact that society portrays these athletes as American Heroes while others simple look at them as role models for their own kids because athletics is more universally thought of as blue collar. In professional sports, these athletes are a role model on the field to show what determination and skill can do. Off the field they are a role model by what they do and just how they do it when they are in the public eye.

Yes, we like to watch them on the field win football games and show REAL sportsmanship. To us the more exciting part of the game is watching the young guys try to replay the game in their backyards. Knowing that youth in America look up to these players makes it hard to forgive players who act with out thinking simply because they know they can "buy" their way out of anything or they think they are invincible. This causes great concern for many because now as the young children grow up; they think it is okay to do whatever the players do off the field.

The boys who grow up and want to play football do so in part because of the "perks" that go along with the spoils. We try to teach our youth that if you do wrong you get punished yet our star athletes don't; making it seem as though our kids won't either. The NFL for their part has tried to talk to each and every player about the pitfalls of success and that's why they set up very strict guidelines for behavior off the field.

But when that player signs a contract to play in the NFL or any other sport for that matter; the player enters into an agreement with the fans and accepts the position of player first and role model second. The player made a choice when they decided to play football and with every choice comes consequences if that player does not live up to his or the teams rules.

Well, with this choice comes the credibility to be a true real and honest role model to the youth. I think some forget what it was to be little watching their role model and how the things they did you wanted to do as well.

Yes, I realize what goes on - off the field - is supposed to be their personal life. However, when you are nationally recognized athlete you can kiss goodbye your personal life and every move you make will be watched both good and bad. It's not fair but it's the price you pay for becoming a professional athlete.

I recently heard about some things the semi-pro football coaches here in Kansas City were doing with there own players. It was good to hear that some still remember they are role models. The coach tells his guys right up front that if he so much as heard a curse word out of their mouth; they were off the team because little kids are watching them closely. He wanted only the best role models on his team. No one thought much of it until a player did it and the coach kicked him off the team. Granted it's not the NFL but its refreshing nonetheless.

Still it begs the question if semi-pro teams can do it why not professional teams. I understand the heat of the battle on the field but certainly to reporters after games where verbal tirades seem to be the norm especially when a player is upset about something after the competition. When a player is seen on TV mouthing a curse word or even worse saluting the fans as Denver Broncos Quarterback Jake Plummer did last season; you have to wonder why they're allowed to show that on their NFL broadcasts.

Still is it necessary. Just because you sign a contract doesn't mean you're a hot shot and what you say or do during the heat of the battle is just as powerful as what you say or do away from the game when you're constantly in the public eye. They have to be responsible especially when the youth want so badly to grow up and become players someday.

At an early age they look at their every move because they wish that they could just for one second be that player. That in its self should make them want to be not only the very best player they can be but also the very best role model they can be.

Now don't get me wrong I'm not trying to say that all of the Chiefs are bad role models because they aren't as very few of them get into the trouble that found Eric Warfield in the mess he's in now. In fact Warfield hurt more than the fans and the youth that look up at him because he plays football but he let down his teammates because he won't be able to play in the first four games of the season.

Some of them are great leaders and role models for people of all ages. However, there are those few who are not and time will tell if Warfield can turn around his image and use this suspension as a way of teaching others that it's not a good idea to drive under the influence of alcohol. Let's hope he's not one of those athletes who used the status of being a professional athlete to divert punishment because of his status on the football field.

He should serve as a lesson to other players in all sports that if you act in a manner that you know could harm others in any way that eventually it will catch up with you as it did for Eric Warfield. He lost something and so did the youth who looked up to him.

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