The Law Blog of Oklahoma

Big League Crimes: Professional Athlete Arrests

Posted: Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Often, the fame that comes with athletic prowess and ability can bring with it a sense of entitlement that encourages athletes to think they are above the law. Domestic violence, DUI, drugs, and other crimes are not unheard of in professional sports, but are athletes any more prone to crime than the rest of us?

Are professional athletes more likely to commit crimes than the armchair quarterback, or are we just more likely to hear about their shortcomings?Who are the biggest criminals in professional sports? Which athletes have the longest arrest records? Which athletic leagues have the most criminals?

We have developed the following nfographic to take a closer look at crime in professional sports. While some of our findings are expected, others are far more surprising:

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The NFL gets a bad rap for having some of the biggest criminals in sports. That makes sense with high-profile murder cases like those involving Aaron Hernandez, Rae Carruth, Ray Lewis, and O.J. Simpson. However, a closer look at statistics show that the arrest rates for NFL players are not only lower than the general public, but also lower than the arrest rates for the MLB and NBA. And while professional athletes are perceived to have a high arrest rate, only the NBA has a higher arrest rate than the general population.

Most athlete arrests involve domestic violence, drugs, assaults and DUI. Although we are likely to hear about these lesser crimes if the athlete involved is a household name, these may slip by unnoticed. The rapes and murders, on the other hand, scream from the headlines and feed into the idea that professional athletes are the worst thugs out there.

While many football players, basketball players, and baseball players have a misdemeanor arrest under their belts, others have racked up an impressive criminal history. Lawrence Taylor and Todd Marinovich, both of the NFL, have each been arrested 10 times. Their records pale in c comparison to those of Isaiah Rider (NBA) who has 30 arrests, Mike Tyson (Boxing) who has more than 36 arrests, and "Fast" Eddie Johnson (NBA) who has more than 100 arrests and has the longest prison term of any professional athlete (life in prison for molesting an 8-year-old girl). 

Because of his astronomical number of arrests, repeated sexual assaults, and life sentence, "Fast" Eddie Johnson earns the dubious distinction of being the biggest criminal in professional sports.

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