How does character fit? 5/8/2006


Chris Schultz

Is football talent more important than a player's character?

Does a player's ability, or potential ability, on the field supercede his past history off the field?

In the Canadian Football League, and the National Football League, the answer is a clear yes. Just in a casual discussion with my associates at, we came up with a dozen players who broke the law in some way, but played in the CFL. Some, just a training camp here and there and others as established starters; the majority did not play for very long.

One of the reasons that I follow the Canadian football game is the tradition. The fact that it is Canadian and because the majority of the players are good people. As always, it is the minority that taint the majority. Deviant human behaviour, for some oddball reason, is more entertaining to discuss than a high moral standing.

For me, if I have a player of controversy, I divide it into two categories. Did the player's action hurt himself only, or did it involve other people? Ricky Williams has a problem that he needs to put himself, by choice, in an altered state of consciousness to enjoy life. He is hurting himself more than anyone else. Will he ever grow out of his dependency? I doubt it. Yes, it affects the Miami Dolphins football team and Williams' family but, in the end, Williams needs to grow up and take responsibility for his opportunity, a controllable issue.

Now, if a player has an off-field violence problem, that is another problem because it is based on a temper issue. If that violence is against women or anyone of limited physical ability, then I truly question why a football coach would want that history on his team. Beating people up on the football field is fine. Beating people up off the field psychologically scars the victim for a long time. There is something wrong with a person who can't walk away from another person that has no chance in a fight. That type of person I do not want on my team.

The person who has an alcohol or drug dependency should be given a second chance but, if it influences others, then the benefits of the majority outweigh the individual all the time.

Don't think coaches don't know. They do. They see players every day and know who was out the night before, and who is out the night before all the time.

The purpose of the off-season in football is to collect all the football talent you can find and often the talent overrides any other evaluation. A player's ability to play is the first consideration; pretty much everything else is rationalized away. The only other word that compares with talent is dependability. A player who always shows up, improves, prepares, plays, evaluates and then begins to improve again. These players, collectively have the 10-and-15 year careers and those are the players are the reason that teams consistently win.

Violence against people? No thanks. Drugs and alcohol that influence others? No thanks. Individual problem that shows a willingness to change? Well maybe, leaning to yes.

Football players are not angels, but the same goes for basketball, baseball and hockey, and in many other occupations.

So, if you are hurting yourself, you deserve a second chance. If you're taking others down as you go down, then you don't.

so what Schultzy is saying is that Craig McTavish should have never been allowed back in the NHL after he got pissed and ran over that kid..........................thank god he isnt in charge of anything except making dumb a$$ comments..........sanctimonious sob..........

He's not evalutaing it from a suspension standpoint, but from a coaches. If someone has enough anger manegmen t issues to run someone over, will they be more of a distraction to the team then they are worth?

Its the last line that really bothers me in Schultz's statement. You have evaluate a player's troubles on a case by case basis. Lots of people(atheletes included) that get caught for impaired driving. They pay a price for it, especially if they injure someone else. In MacTavish's case he got a second chance, and he has more than made the most of it. Others have not been so lucky. Steve Chaisson comes to mind. He died after a single vehicle rollover, while impaired, after his team(Carolina) missed the playoffs. Im wondering what Mr. Schultz opinion of Dany Heatley's case would be.

I think he would say to much car for a young driver!

Some coaches will give troublemakers a second chance, others will get rid of them so as not to "poison" the dressing room. It's a fine line to walk. Schultz gives us some points to think about.

That is very true , but according to Schultz, he should not get a second chance.

As in the courts, a case by case basis, analyzed within the laws and regulations of the land, is how it all should work, pro sports or otherwise. I think this is why for the same crime, for say a first time offender, same jurisdiction, you may have a different ruling based on the character of the accused and other factors I'm sure. This really only makes sense.

If a person gets behind the wheel while drunk and kills or seriously injures someone, they do not deserve a second chance under any circumstances. They should consider themselves lucky to be alive, and (eventually) lucky to be out of prison.

I agree with Schulz 100%: second chances are for those who only hurt themselves.

I agree, Heatley got off with a slap on the wrist. Sure he lost his best friend but did he learn I doubt it. Yes feeling sorry for yourself for a year does not equate to the loss of a valuable life. No second chances! The dead do not get a second chance.

until you have walked a mile in their shoes I wouldnt be too quick too judge........and two wrongs do not make a right, you cant change what has happened so why ruin another life because of it.........these young men have to carry the burden of what they did for the rest of their lives........isnt that enough........

I agree with most of the posts, especially Big Dave's concerning driving drunk and seriously injuring or killing someone, you don't deserve a second chance. The real problem that I see is that most athletes aren't mature enough to understand how their actions will effect their futures and the people around them. This may also be a problem in society too.
One thing that most people don't understand is that if you own up to your problem or shortcoming, most people understand that you are human like everyone else, and they will forgive you or give you a second chance. However, most people are only looking out for themselves at that moment, and try to conceal things, which only makes it much worse when the problem or situation is discovered.
With Danny Heatley, I'm not saying what he did wasn't terrible, because we all know it was and is undefensible. However, he did comply with everything the NHL imposed upon him, so from that point, he did everything asked of him by the NHL and the courts. I don't agree with all that took place, but he did comply with everything asked of him.
The one thing I have a huge problem with is the Todd Bertuzzi situation, because his suspension was just a slap on the wrist for injuring the player from the Colorado Avalanche. Remember, it happened later in the season in 2003-2004. Todd Bertuzzi was suspended indefinitely, and then lucked out because there was no 2004-2005 season, and then he's back playing again in 2005-2006. I've always felt that a player suspended because they seriously injured another player should be suspended as long as the injured player is still injured and out of the line-up. There should also be a minimum number of games of suspension. Do you people feel this is justified, and would it work in the CFL, NFL, NHL, NBA, and Major League Baseball?
Think back to the Pierre Turgeon-Dale Hunter incident in Stanley cup plyoffs involving the New York Islanders and the Washington Capitals. Dales Hunter rammed Pierre Turgeon into the boards, after he scored a goal and was skating away from the net, and he we head first into the boards and was seriously injured. Turgeon only missed 6-8 games in the playoffs before the Islanders were eliminated, and Hunter only got a 20 game suspension. He should have gotten at least half a season without pay. i'd like to hear your thoughts on this whole topic.