DALLAS -- You know what they say, perception is reality. Maybe that's why so many fans think the NFL is made up of a bunch of bad boys. But a UT Dallas study is challenging that perception.
The authors of the study compared the arrest rates of almost 2,000 NFL players to other males between the ages of 20 and 39. They found from 2000 to 2013, the arrest rate for the general male population was significantly higher than the total arrest rate for NFL players.
Take 2013 for example. The arrest rate for the general population was 4,889 arrests per 100,000 while the total arrest rate for NFL players was only 3,740.
So, what's with NFL players always getting the bad boy rap?
"I think that in this day and age, with the social media and the instantaneous news that comes out via Twitter and Facebook and so forth, that message comes out into the public and people take those stories and assume that it would be characteristic of all the other players in the league," explained UT Dallas Criminology Professor Alex Piquero, one of the study's authors.
Although the study does concede there was a higher violent crime arrest rate for NFL players than the general population.
Hall of Famer Cris Carter recently apologized for telling rookies they should have a fall guy whenever they get into trouble.
"The NFL and the coaches and everybody on down needs to be delivering a message that says you are, whether or not they like it or not, held to a higher standard," Piquero said.
The study's overall message to the public: look at all sides of the perception. Piquero says,"Be cognizant of what's bad about players, not just in the NFL but just in general, but also look at the good that they do."