Vikings, NFL make progress in player arrests

What NFL team has had more of its players arrested than any other franchise since 2000? Your Minnesota Vikings. But there should be an asterisk.

The New York Times’ Upshot column has broken down the rate at which NFL players are arrested and has found that over time, 44 Minnesota Vikings players have been arrested. Most of the NFL arrests are for drunk driving — this is the part where we remind you that 1 out of every 7 Minnesota drivers has a DUI conviction — but assault and battery and domestic violence are #2 and #3 on the list.

The Vikings instituted “a culture of accountability” in 2006 under then-coach Brad Childress, addressing a series of high-profile arrests of players. Although the Times says teams high on the list tend to have a persistent problem over time, most of the Vikings arrests occurred between 2000 and 2006. Childress said he wanted to draft more players of character and, although his teams ushered in a new era of losing, he appears to have accomplished at least one goal.

The frequency of arrests in a franchise tends to be consistent over time. One might imagine that the number of players from a given franchise who are arrested is a random phenomenon. Maybe, in the rankings above, for example, the Vikings and the Bengals were just unlucky and the Texans and Rams were just lucky.

But there’s a simple way to test that. If the results were random, you would expect there to be no correlation between the number of player arrests in one time period with a subsequent time period. You could even imagine a negative correlation, if teams that had a run of players getting in trouble took extra care not to sign players reputed to have character issues.

But that is not what happened over the last 14 years. If you chart the number of arrests of players from each franchise in the first seven years of the data, 2000 to 2006, versus the number of arrests that franchise experienced from 2007 to 2013, the correlation is a pretty solid 53 percent. A scatter plot shows a clear pattern in which those franchises with high numbers of arrests in the early years also tended to have high number arrests in later years and vice verse.

For the entire period (2000-2013), about 2.53 of an NFL team’s players are arrested on average. For the Vikings it’s been nearly twice that.

So far, the Times says, 2014 is on track to be the year with the fewest number of arrests of players.

(h/t: Paul Tosto)

  • Gary F

    Soucheray had a good column on Wednesday. Think Ziggy is having problems trying to convince some big company to cough up some big dollars for naming rights for the new bird killing peoples stadium? Maybe it could be called the Hennepin County Sheriffs Field?

  • Dave

    Tragically prescient article in light of this Adrian Peterson news.

    Still, at least somebody found something in which the Vikings could be number one!