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Summer break in the NFL means partying, arrests for many rookies
Commentator Terry Pluto says six weeks of freedom before training camp is when rookies can't help but hit the bars

Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
Browns defensive end Armonty Bryant was arrested on DUI charges less than a week after being drafted in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Courtesy of David Richard, USA Today Sports
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For the next six weeks, NFL players are on summer break before training camp opens. And this period of freedom has coaches giving a familiar speech to their players to stay out trouble. And it often goes ignored.

WKSU commentator Terry Pluto says it sheds a light on an overarching problem in professional sports.

Listen: WKSU commentator Terry Pluto on the culture of arrests in the NFL

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Listen: Terry Pluto talks Browns minicamp and Cavs draft options

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For the next six weeks, NFL players are on summer break before training camp opens. And this period of freedom has coaches giving a familiar speech to their players: Stay out trouble.

It’s advice that often goes ignored, Terry Pluto says.

“You’re paid a minimum of $480,000 -- most of these guys well over $2 million -- and they (coaches and management) … give you a very hard homework assignment. They say, ‘In the next seven weeks, will you just do something not to get arrested?’ And they are scared to death that they will not be able to do this

The Plain Dealer recently reported that a year ago, 13 NFL players were arrested from June 10th to July 21st on charges ranging from drunk driving to assault.

Troubles continue
In recent weeks, two Browns players alone were arrested: rookie Armonty Bryant for DUI and Quentin Groves in a prostitution sting. Pluto says it has become part of athletic culture.

A recent Plain Dealer article reports that a year ago, 13 NFL players were arrested from June 10 to July 21 on charges ranging from drunk driving to domestic violence to assault. In recent weeks, two Browns players alone were arrested. Rookie Armonty Bryant for DUI and Quentin Groves in a prostitution sting. 

“A lot of these guys think this is how an athlete is supposed to act, that it’s macho,” Pluto says. They think “manhood is going out. It’s hitting the bar. ‘I can hold my liquor, I can get my women, I can handle my fists.”

What it’s doing, he says, is “destroying a lot of fabric of society.

The Browns have had this kind of trouble before. Besides Bryant, who arrested for a DUI for days after the draft, wide receiver Josh Gordon came to the Browns with a history of problems with drug tests. Now he’s been suspended without pay for the first two games of this season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

He says it was an honest mistake; that he mistakenly took medicine containing codeine when he was ill.

Plenty of warnings
But Pluto notes, “There are so many warnings and they all know they’re being drug-tested. They’ve been drug tested since they went into college.”

Pluto says part of the problem is that fans accept this behavior.

“I remember Vinnie Testaverde, when he was with the Browns, said ‘I understand when I throw two interceptions why the fans boo,’” Pluto says. “’But I’ve played on teams where guys got out of jail for raping somebody. There was no doubt it happened and they got cheered because they were good players.’”

Pluto says athletes needs to start behaving like men.

“One of the things we pray for in life, I think, is self-discipline and self-control,” Pluto says. “Just because I feel like doing it or I think this is what guys do, doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do.”

Pluto says the NFL is trying to combat the problems with rookie symposiums that stress good off-field conduct.

“I think they have to do this because (the players) just feel that they’re going to get away with it,” Pluto says.

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