For the first time in more than six years, the NFL has finished a calendar month without any reports of an active player getting arrested.
In fact, going back even further, the NFL is on its longest streak in more than 11 years without an an active player getting arrested. It’s been all of 47 days, as of Tuesday. I’ll pause for applause.
You may be thinking, “I could have sworn I heard something like this recently.” And you’re right! We thought the NFL had gone the entire month of September without an arrest, and my report on this spread to just about every sports site around, and made it all the way to a mock segment during Jimmy Kimmel’s monologue.
Unfortunately for the NFL, a new round of stories emerged a week into October, when news belatedly broke that a Titans rookie WR named Dorial Green-Beckham was arrested for an unpaid traffic ticket in the final hours of September. And so, the NFL’s streak of at least one player per month getting arrested remained alive and well, and continued with another arrest in October.
Naturally, the same thing could happen this time around. We may find out days or even weeks from now that some backup linebacker got a DUI on Thanksgiving or that a rookie special teamer was booked on drug charges at 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 30. And there is always, even in today’s age, a possibility that a player really did get arrested and we just never heard about it.
But as it stands for now, November is the first month without an arrest since July 2009, according to my analysis of media databases maintained by, among others, USA Today and the San Diego Union-Tribune. That’s 75 straight months with at least one arrest, until now.
But the NFL’s current run of clean legal behavior runs even deeper than that. The last report of an active player getting arrested came when Seahawks FB Derrick Coleman was nabbed for a hit-and-run on Oct. 15. That means we’ve gone 47 days without an arrest, eclipsing a 42-day mark that ran through December 2014 as the previous high for the Roger Goodell era, which began in 2006, per my analysis of the USA Today and San Diego Union-Tribune databases.
The last time the league went this long without an arrest was a 63-day run that lasted until September 2004 (that was the longest stretch without an arrest since media sites began tracking NFL player criminal acts in 2000).
Research shows that players are typically better behaved during the season, but the rate of arrests only slows down slightly compared to the offseason. Overall, the league has averaged one arrest per week over the last decade, compared to roughly 0.8 arrests per week during the regular season. So on average, you’d expect five or six players to get arrested during the length of the current arrest-free streak.
And of course the legal news associated with the NFL hasn’t been all great recently. Among the regular citizens arrested during November were retired former players for the Jaguars, Ravens, and Raiders.
Also arrested last month was former Cowboys RB Joseph Randle, who was on the team’s roster as recently as this season and may return to the league at some point if teams are willing to look past his rap sheet, which now totals three arrests in 13 months.
Last week, Rams WR Stedman Bailey was shot twice in the head, and survived. The NFL isn’t suddenly immune to trouble. The “National Felon League” nickname isn’t going anywhere, and the public is reminded of players’ legal troubles every time a guy like Greg Hardy is on their TV. And let’s remember that despite the recent run of good behavior, every NFL team has had at least one player arrested over the last two years.
But for a month, at least, we can (tentatively) say to NFL players: nice job at not getting arrested.