Posted: 12/26/2003 8:31:13 AM EDT
MOre anti-gun dribble from our "friends" at the NY Times
More N.F.L. Players Turn to Guns for a Sense of Security
December 26, 2003
More N.F.L. Players Turn to Guns for a Sense of Security
By MIKE FREEMAN
Howard the end of his 19 years in the National Football League, offensive
tackle Lomas Brown noticed something that startled even a hardened
veteran. It seemed as if almost every player he knew in the N.F.L. owned a
gun. Brown said he saw guns everywhere. On team flights. In locker rooms.
In players' cars. In training camp dormitory rooms.
"I think the vast majority of players in the N.F.L. have guns," said
Brown, who retired at the end of last season. "Just about every guy I
played with in the N.F.L. had a gun. Almost every player I knew had one.
Guns are rampant in football. You have all these players packing guns
wherever they go. It's a disaster waiting to happen."
Many people in the N.F.L. share Brown's view, according to interviews with
more than 25 players, owners, team executives and agents in recent weeks.
Weapons, including military-style assault rifles, can be found in players'
homes and cars, and even sometimes in their lockers, the players,
executives and owners said.
But at a time when possessing guns has become increasingly common, many
players said, they are not searched rigorously when entering stadiums and
Professional football, like other sports, has significantly increased
security at stadiums since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. Fans are
screened for weapons as they enter the gates, with security personnel
routinely patting them down and checking their belongings. League
officials declined to discuss how many guns or other weapons have been
confiscated during these searches.
Many players said, however, that they are seldom searched on the day of
games, although their bags and cars were screened carefully in the
immediate aftermath of Sept. 11.
Nor are the players monitored as they come and go during the week, making
it relatively simple for players to leave guns in cars parked outside
stadiums or to bring them into locker rooms, a number of players said.
A league spokesman, Greg Aiello, maintained that players' bags are
searched on game day. The N.F.L. has a broad policy that firmly
discourages gun ownership and prohibits players from bringing guns to team
facilities. League officials say they think the policy has been
No one knows exactly how many of the N.F.L.'s nearly 1,700 players are
armed. That is in part because some possess illegal guns, purchased
without a permit on the black market. The league also does not keep track
of which players have permits to possess guns. Many players and others in
the N.F.L. said they believe more players are armed than ever before, with
their rough estimates running from perhaps half of the league's players to
as many as 90 percent.
-- continuted --
"The culture has definitely changed," Giants defensive end Michael
Strahan, an 11-year veteran, said. "It's probably true that more players
own guns now than when I first came into the league. That's because it
doesn't feel safe being an athlete in public anymore.
"I am much more worried about aggressive people than I have ever been.
Because of our salaries and the exposure we receive, fans feel like they
have a right to physically challenge you."
Athletes Feel Threatened
The primary reason for the rise in gun ownership, many people said, is an
increased concern among players that they are targets for everyone from
aggressive fans to criminals and even terrorists.
"What you're really worried about is some guy having a gun, he confronts
you, and you have nothing," linebacker T. J. Slaughter said.
Slaughter was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars in late October after
he was accused of pointing a gun at two men on a highway. Slaughter, who
said he had a permit for his gun, denied having pointed it at the men; he
believed they had threatened him.
Possessing a gun has also become a macho emblem, a status symbol among
athletic, affluent young men, said Michael Huyghue, a former Jaguars
general manager who is now an agent representing dozens of N.F.L. players.
For players, Huyghue said, owning guns "is as basic to them as owning
jewelry or fast cars."
"They have almost become tools of their trade," he said. "And every
profession has something that the people in it identify with, just like
the lawyer that must have his $600 briefcase or $1,000 cuff links. But the
difference is the briefcase or cuff links won't kill you, and I have never
heard of a situation where a gun saved a player."
Of course, not all N.F.L. players own guns. Jets quarterback Vinny
Testaverde, San Diego Chargers quarterback Doug Flutie and the suspended
Tampa Bay wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson have all made the National Rifle
Association's list of people in support of gun control.
And many football players who said they own guns insisted they do so
responsibly and legally.
Pro football is not the only sport in which guns have become a concern.
Greg Anthony, a former guard in the National Basketball Association who is
now an analyst on ESPN, said he carried registered guns during the early
part of his career, as did some teammates. Anthony said perhaps 1 in 25
N.B.A. players had guns during the early 1990's; he also said that by the
time he retired last season, the number had tripled.
"Right or wrong, it's just the reality," Anthony said. "More athletes are
worried about their safety. More and more people approach you, and you
just never know what somebody is capable of doing. Players want that extra
sense of security in this environment. They see carrying as a deterrent."
Anthony said he had often taken a revolver secretly into the locker room
when he played for the Knicks. "No one ever saw it, and I didn't know
anyone even knew about it," he said.
No independent researcher has studied how widespread gun use is among
athletes, said Stephen Teret, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, who
founded the Bloomberg School of Public Health's department of gun policy
When told that N.F.L. players had said that many of their peers owned
guns, Teret said it would not be surprising. Gun ownership is primarily a
male phenomenon, he said, and professional football is composed of men.
There is at least one gun in about 40 percent of American households,
-- continued --
Among the potential dangers of having guns stored in lockers or in cars
parked next to a stadium or practice field, several players said, is that
some athletes have volatile tempers and a disagreement on the field could
turn into a gun incident.
"I understand wanting a gun to protect your home and family," Lomas Brown
said. "But having one in other situations is extremely dangerous. Athletes
are very emotional, and just like everyone else, sometimes our emotions
get the best of us, and they are difficult to control. If you throw a gun
into that mix, and then maybe alcohol, well, that's not good."
During the mid-1990's, a heated argument between Giants players that
started in a meeting room ended with one player threatening to get a gun
from his car to shoot his teammate, Strahan said. Other players prevented
him from going to his car, Strahan said.
A few seasons later, a reporter and a Giants player were discussing just
how prevalent guns were in locker rooms. The reporter said he was
skeptical that many players carried guns, but the player insisted that he
was wrong. As proof, he showed the reporter his own gun, kept in a small
duffel bag in his locker.
There have been a number of off-field incidents recently involving pro
football players and guns. Larry Johnson, a rookie running back with the
Kansas City Chiefs, was arrested Dec. 5 and charged with felony aggravated
assault and misdemeanor battery after a former girlfriend accused him of
slapping her and threatening her with a gun during an argument. He denied
Tennessee Titans quarterback Steve McNair was accused of driving while
intoxicated and illegal possession of a handgun last May. McNair had a gun
permit, but in Tennessee it is against the law for an intoxicated person
to have a loaded weapon. Police say they found a loaded .40-caliber gun
and extra ammunition in McNair's car when he was arrested.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad, Cleveland Browns
defensive tackle Gerard Warren and former San Diego Chargers wide receiver
Jeff Graham were among other N.F.L. players who had been arrested on
weapons charges over the last two years. Muhammad, for example, was
accused of carrying two concealed weapons in his car. Dallas Cowboys
defensive linemen Leonardo Carson was accused of threatening an automobile
mechanic with a gun.
Fred Lane, then a running back with Carolina, was arrested in February
2000 after the police found a rifle in the trunk of his car. Five months
later, Lane was shot to death in his Charlotte, N.C., home. His wife,
Deidra, pleaded guilty in August to having shot Lane with his 12-gauge
shotgun; she was sentenced to eight years in prison.
Barely a month after Sept. 11, safety Damien Robinson, then with the Jets,
was arrested before a game at Giants Stadium after security officials
found a .223-caliber Bushmaster rifle in the trunk of his car along with
200 rounds of ammunition.
When he played with the Cardinals from 1996 to 1998, Brown said, several
teammates were caught by team officials bringing weapons onto team
property. The players were simply told not to do it again, he said.
Before Sept. 11, players usually boarded charter flights without passing
through any security check. That changed after Sept. 11, Brown said. Now,
players go through the same screening procedures as passengers on
League Policy Not Deterrent
The N.F.L. became the first sports league to create a formal gun policy in
1996, in an attempt to curtail gun ownership by players. The policy also
discourages keeping registered guns at home.
But the policy has done little to deter gun possession, a number of
players said. Some players think teammates may be turning to illegal
weapons because there may be less chance that the N.F.L. will learn that
they have bought a gun.
"I think that's true, and it's stupid," Strahan, who declined to say
whether he owns a firearm, said. "If you're going to own a gun, do it
right. What if that gun you buy illegally was used in a murder?"
More players appear to be arming themselves to hunt game, many players and
league officials said, but the main reason pro athletes think they need
guns is the concern that their wealth and celebrity make them targets.
"People don't realize how many aggressive fans there are," Huyghue, the
player agent, said. "There are a lot of people out there who want to make
a name for themselves by taking on a football player. In my opinion, those
types of confrontations have increased in number and intensity."
Will Allen, a Giants cornerback, was returning home two years ago when
three armed men assaulted him, doused him with gasoline and threatened to
set him afire if he did not hand over his jewelry, which was worth more
than $100,000, according to the police. He did.
Slaughter, the former Jacksonville linebacker, said his belief that he
needs a gun for protection was reinforced in November 2001, when Danny
Clark, a close friend of Slaughter's who plays for the Jaguars, was
assaulted as he left a restaurant in Jacksonville, Fla.
Clark, who was on crutches because of a football injury, told the police
that as he neared his luxury sports utility vehicle, a man approached,
pointed a large handgun in his face and demanded his car keys. Clark
handed them over and the man stole the vehicle, the police said.
"To watch your friend go through the aftereffects of getting robbed, that
had an impact on me," Slaughter said. "At that point, I began to think it
wasn't a question of if some guy was going to come after me or another
teammate, but when."
The moment arrived, Slaughter believes, in October as he was driving on a
highway late one night. A car with two men in it pulled alongside,
The men rolled down a window and began yelling how much they admired the
wheel rims on Slaughter's S.U.V. Then the men began cursing at him,
Slaughter said he thought that he was being set up for a carjacking. He
said he told the men to back away from the car, then rolled up his window.
"Now I ask you," Slaughter said, "who drives up to car, in the middle of
the night, driving over 60 miles an hour, and says, `I like your rims'? I
The two men told the police that Slaughter had waved a handgun at them.
Officers later stopped Slaughter and said they found a .40-caliber handgun
and ammunition in Slaughter's S.U.V. Slaughter, who said he had owned the
registered gun for five years, was arrested.
Charges of aggravated battery were dropped after Slaughter agreed to
surrender his gun and to donate $500 to charity. He vehemently denied that
he had flashed the gun at the men.
Would he reconsider owning a gun now? "No," Slaughter said. "I believe
legally owning a gun is the right thing to do. It offers me protection. I
think one day it could save my life."
Mike Wise contributed reporting for this article.
Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company
WHY is this NEWS??!
Hopefully people strattling the line will read this and think "shit, if these big burly guys need guns for protection, maybe i should get one too". Of course the libs will just think the players will come out onto the field shooting.
Because this is the NY Times...
Remember,in their view the whole country either IS LIKE NEW YORK, or SHOULD BE...
The idea of places where pistols are legally sold over the counter without a permit, or where guns are as common as pocket knives is an anathema to them...
Contrast that with Green Bay WI, where there's enough stuff to hunt (and it's well enough ingrained in the local culture) that you just assume they all own guns (I mean, you have millions, you live in a state with almost every season you can think of from birds to bear, and 'Opening Day' (of deer season) is an unoffical holiday in some parts)...
peekay: I would like to repectfully disagree, I think the NYT is asking/telling the public & the NFL that the NFL ought to put a stop to those players bringing guns to work. Also keep in mind those on-field brawls being shown over and over again on TV, that is what those dirty birds at the NYT are implying.
A chartered flight is private property, do NFL players have property rights?
A car with a gun locked in the trunk is not a crime for the rest of us, is it for a football player?
You have 3,000 dollars in your pocket, your drive a Porsche, you have a 6500 dollar Rolex on your arm and are wearing a 35,000 dollar Super Bowl ring, should you be denied the right to protect it and yourself from thugs because you play in the NFL?
You are not a criminal, you are a public figure with fans they may hate you, you have a permit, should you be subjected to the wraith of thugs because you are a football player and therefore not entitled to protect yourself?
If you wear a gun into the locker room, the room is secured when you are not there, you lock it in a locker and it leaves in your possesion, how is this different than a cop carrying a gun to work?
Why should rich, public figures like football players be denied basic rights?
Name one terrorist linked to football?
lonegunman: Have you seen the movie Black Sunday with Bruce Dern?
Originally Posted By warlord:
The N.F.L. has a broad policy that firmly
discourages gun ownership... The league also does not keep track of which players have permits to possess guns.
-- continuted --
WTF? A huge intity like the NFL "firmly discouraging" gun ownership??!! Who do they think they are?
I should hope they do not "keep track"!
The N.F.L. has a broad policy that firmly
discourages gun ownership...
Screw the NFL! They have every right to do so. Especially after I read crap like this:
But of course the NYT doesn't report that in the article.