The question of whether or not pro NFL players make good role models has been debated back and forth, ad nausea. However, I would like to toss my two cents into the rapidly filling chasm.
First, let me propose another question. Are pro NFL players athletes first or entertainers first? The way I look at it, football is first and foremost a physical contest. Therefore, the pro NFL players are athletes first and last. All the other considerations, motivations, and distractions may loom large to some, (and indeed, may lessen the quality of the game), but at the end of the day it’s about the physical skill.
That being said, we can now turn to the question of role models. Is it acceptable for athletes, in this case pro NFL players, to be role models? The answer should be a resounding yes. Physical skills and prowess, while perhaps not as significant as their mental counterparts, are still characteristics to which we should aspire. Who would want to take away the goal of a high school student to rush for as many touchdowns as his favorite pro NFL running back? Is this a poor aspiration for the young man? Is it detrimental to his development towards manhood? Of course not. Where the problem lies is not with the pro NFL players’ skill on the field, but with their behavior off of it. This is where most people fail to make an important distinction, and it is this: A pro NFL player is a role model as an athletic figure. Period. His actions off the field do not fall into that realm. Admire pro NFL athletes for the physical prowess they embody. Make your own decisions and choose your own actions. As long as you remember to keep the two separate, you will be just fine.