Reality Check: NFL Player Arrests on Rise?

During the past few weeks, it feels like a day hasn't passed without a new allegation or revelation involving a NFL player and off-the-field misconduct. But a review of a few analyses shows that the recent flood of media coverage isn't the result of an uptick in the number of NFL players experiencing run-ins with the law – there’s been no such uptick. Yet when it comes to domestic violence arrests, NFL players do seem to have a problem.

The New York Times analyzed data compiled by USA Today and found that NFL player arrests for 2014 are actually on track to be the lowest since 2000. As the Times noted, "Arrests peaked in the mid-2000s, and are way down this year. The peak year for arrests of NFL players was 2006, followed closely by 2007 and 2008."

FiveThirtyEight, a respected numbers-crunching website, also looked at the USA Today dataset and found that "arrest rates among NFL players are quite low compared to national averages for men in their age range."

However, FiveThirtyEight's analysis found that NFL player arrests for one particular crime did stand out -- domestic violence, the very crime that is at the center of the ongoing controversy surrounding the NFL.

According to FiveThirtyEight, "domestic violence accounts for 48 percent of arrests for violent crimes among NFL players, compared to our estimated 21 percent nationally."

The numbers show that domestic violence is a serious problem among NFL players, but the notion that players are getting arrested more often than before, or at higher rates than the general public, simply isn’t true.

Contact Us