As the NFL’s offseason news cycle fills with off-field problems, players know the image of the league — and by extension of themselves —is under assault.
And as much as they try to put problems such as Aaron Hernandez and others into a little box way over there, the reality is that every problem reflects on every player, whether they want to believe it or not. Because as much as bloviators such as Geraldo Rivera and Rush Limbaugh sound ridiculous, they also have audiences.
But Giants defensive end Justin Tuck said he can only worry about himself, and hope that message is delivered to others.
“I think you always worry about the image of the NFL,” Tuck said while selling razors, via Ebenezer Samuel of the New York Daily News. “But the only way I can control that is the things that I do. I can’t control what other people do.
“I can only control what image is Justin Tuck and the New York Giants [presenting]. And I think we do a good job of upholding the standards of the NFL.”
Tuck also has come to understand his own role in the cycle, knowing he has to teach younger players the importance of keeping your own yard clean.
“All I can do is control what Justin Tuck does, and help the younger guys understand that hey, they’re role models and they have to watch how they act,” he said. “It’s always predicated on how we [veterans] act. The first thing most rookies do is watch. That’s exactly what I did when I came in. You try to mimic what they [veterans] do. That’s the best way we can teach them as vets, living the life, living the way that we’re supposed to live.”
If every player could be trusted to follow good advice, Tuck could sleep well knowing he has been a good example. Unfortunately, he’s no more able to change the league’s image himself than he is to control Hernandez’s behavior.