Data Visualizations
from Best Tickets

Crime In The NFL

From murder charges against former Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez, to attempted murder charges against Cleveland rookie Ausar Walcott, and DUI and burglary charges against troubled young WR Titus Young, the NFL has found itself in headlines for all the wrong reasons this off season. Are the 30+ players who have found themselves in a pair of cuffs since the Super Bowl cause for concern to the league, or is this just business as usual?


Types Of Crime In The NFL

First let’s take a look at the assortment of things NFL players have been arrested for since 2000. In the table below you’ll find all of the different offenses, one of which is “Other.” “Other” offenses are those that simply defied classification.

Main Table

The crimes above can be divided into one of three categories: violent crime, property crime and victimless crime. Here’s how NFL crimes since 2000 fall into each of those categories.


If you are looking for a silver lining here, it is that 66% of the crimes that have been committed by NFL players since 2000 can be classified as victimless. Unfortunately, the next most common type of crime is violent crime, which clocks in at 30%. Now, how have these numbers changed over the years?

Type By Year

Even though it would appear that crime in the NFL is on the decline since 2010, 2013 is on pace to be the most crime-riddled year in the NFL since 2006. We are only slightly beyond the halfway point of this year and already there have been 40 arrests.

Let’s take a look at the monthly numbers.

Frequency By Month

Unsurprisingly, the bulk of NFL crime occurs in the off season. To be exact, the average number of crimes committed per month is 44 during the pre/regular season, 47 during the post season, and 67 during the off season. Those numbers speak for themselves. Also, June – the month in which Aaron Hernandez allegedly murdered Odin Lloyd – is also the month with the highest average number of violent crimes. Interesting…

Which Players Are Most Likely To Get Arrested?

Some players get arrested more than others. What do the numbers say about the teams, positions, and individual players with the most arrests since 2000? See below.


Cincinnati and Minnesota tie for 1st with 40. Both programs have had many players be arrested once as well as a few repeat offenders like Chris Henry, Bryant McKinnie and Kenny Mixon. On the other hand, only nine St. Louis Rams players have been arrested since 2000, and only one of them was a repeat offender. The Houston Texans, who also only have nine offenders, are at an advantage thanks to their shorter time in the league (they entered in 2002).


No doubt, WR’s are known for having frequent attitude problems, but at nearly 30 more records than the next closest position (CB) this is a bit ridiculous. Also, keep in mind that CB and LB’s are two of the most common positions in the NFL. The standard NFL 53-man roster has 7 LB’s and 10 CB’s, while there are usually only 6 WR’s.


Exactly zero people reading this are surprised to see Pacman at the top of this list. Pacman is one of a select few who have been arrested while playing for multiple teams. Cedric Benson has been arrested twice on two different teams. If you had no previous knowledge of Sebastian Janikowski, you might be surprised to see a kicker on this list. Surprisingly, three of the eight kickers and punters with arrest records are repeat offenders. The other two are Todd Sauerbrun and Jeff Reed; both have been arrested twice.


NFL Crimes and Convictions Over Time

What can history tell us about what to expect for future crimes, or those that have not been judged yet (like Aaron Hernandez’s murder case for example)? Let’s find out.

The first chart you see here is one showing the total number of crimes committed by NFL players since 2000. As an added bonus, we divided the results into confirmed convictions and confirmed acquittals.

Yearly Convictions and Acquittals

So far in 2013, there have been eight acquittals out of 30 total arrests for a 26.67% acquittal rate. Over the past five years, the average acquittal rate was 26.88%. From 2000 to 2007, the average acquittal rate was 32.91%. It would appear that either the judicial system is becoming less lenient for NFL players, or that NFL players are simply becoming more guilty.

Convictions & Acquittals by Type

If Aaron Hernandez can take solace in anything at all from the history of convictions and acquittals in the NFL, it is this: violent crimes are acquitted 42% of the time, more than both property crimes (37%) and victimless crimes (25%).

When it comes to murder, the odds are stacked heavily in his favor. So far, 100% of the murder charges against active NFL players have been dropped. Ray Lewis is the only other NFL player to have been charged with murder while active. He didn’t get off scot-free, but he avoided a murder conviction and some serious jail time.

Aaron Hernandez can only hope that he could be so lucky, but from the looks of things there is no reason for optimism.


The raw data for this piece is available for download by clicking one of the two buttons below.



Brought to you by Best Tickets

Written By: Andrew Powell-Morse

Concept Developement: Brett Cohen & Andrew Powell-Morse

Graphic Design: Christopher Mathews






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Comments (3)

  1. ruben - Reply

    July 12, 2013 at 10:05 am

    The difference between Ray Lewis and Aaron Hernandez: Hernandez’ buddies aren’t covering for him. Lewis’ buddies did.

  2. copanut - Reply

    July 15, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    I count 8 incidents for PacMan, not 7 as indicated in the chart. But thanks for this work.

    • Andrew Powell-Morse - Reply

      July 15, 2013 at 12:18 pm

      You are absolutely right. That came thanks to a difference in the style of quotation marks around his nickname. Fixing it now. Appreciate the catch!

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