The fumble, the kick, the threat

The realization of threats against athletes who are perceived by fanatics (aka-fans) as well as those embedded in the gambling spectrum is mainly an anomaly in the United States. As you travel abroad there are horror stories of how players were tortured by Uday Hussein and the murder of the Colombian soccer player Andres Escobar. The extreme fanaticism associated with sports almost resembles that of the gladiators who would be killed if their performance was sub par.

Today we are reading of 2 professional football players who have received death threats due to their misfortunes on the grid iron. I appeared on MSNBC in January, 2010 when I spoke about professional athletes that found it necessary to arm themselves for protection. In the interview I spoke bluntly about why athletes feel that buying a weapon is a cheaper option to hiring a security professional. What I didn’t say was that many of the athletes that choose to arm themselves, do so, illegally. There are many legal gun owners among the professional athletes who do opt to have guns, but we are constantly hearing about the arrests of the ones that are carrying illegally (see Plaxico Burress and Gilbert Arenas).

The second problem is that many of the athletes that choose to use protection often select their cadre from the clubs and gyms they frequent. These bodyguards are mostly from the same fabric as the ones we constantly read about. The National Football League Security is headed by its Director of Strategic Security Jeffrey Miller, a former Pennsylvania State Trooper. Mr. Miller has taken a proactive step towards security at games. The plan for the protection of players is unknown to me. We all know of players that have hired their own as we all fell witness to the Ben Roethlisberger debacle when he hired 2 off duty officers (a common client mistake).

So with all of the preliminary out of the way, what do we do? First thing is this, unless there are extenuating circumstances that may show the NFL liable to the protection of their players off the field, we can conclude that any and all protection efforts will come from the players pockets. If the individual player is not consulted he will not have a clue where to start except purchasing a home security system and possible a weapon. Cultural differences in players will almost dictate what option will be taken. I am comfortable in saying that because history has proven it to be so. As a side not we did a threat and vulnerability assessment as well as a site assessment of a professional athletes home a few years back. We revealed that there was more security in the garage protecting the luxury vehicles than there was in the residence protecting life. That is a fact as sad as it may seem. If priorities are jaded then so will be the decision making process be when it comes to consulting with a valid security professional.

All of the professional leagues need to get on the front end of this before something bad happens and history will be the best witness for any attorney to show that all of the signs were there.

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