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positive 2After watching and observing the news coverage all this month, I think it’s safe to say that the NFL’s overall image has taken a big hit and plenty of scrutiny from the general public. While some will say that the NFL’s image has changed because of the alleged crimes of Ray Rice, Greg Hardy, Adrian Peterson or because of the way that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell enforces or doesn’t enforce consistent punishment on the players who break the law and team rules.

At the end of the day, Detroit Lions head coach Jim Cadwell reminded us during Monday’s media presser that while there are some bad stories out there right now about the NFL, there are more great stories about the NFL everyday.

“In terms of the overall perception of the league, I know there has been a lot a talk about that but I think when you look at this league as a whole and look at the mean who play this game, I think we have more great stories than bad stories but the ones that get highlighted are the ones that have been an issue lately and obviously they are an issue and they are a concern but overall I think overall this league is built of men that have character and integrity and that are family men that do a tremendous job of carrying out their daily routine.

While I’m sure there are some fans and people in general who do not agree with Caldwell’s mindset on the league right now. I must admit that I agree with Caldwell when he says there are “more great stories than bad stories” when it comes to the NFL. It’s just as people, we like to always focus on the negative. Like Caldwell said, that’s not to say that ongoing issues with Rice, Hardy, Peterson and the issues of domestic violence in the NFL are not important, because they are extremely important.

However, none of that changes the fact that the NFL, is still built on great men that have character and integrity. In fact, the Detroit Lions have proved that on a number occasions. Just last week, the Jim and Cheryl Caldwell Foundation which is headed by coach Caldwell and his wife Cheryl, in collaboration with the Lions, announce the grand opening of “The Project Phoenix Learning Center,” which is a new 21st Century computer lab and learning center at the Detroit Lions Academy.

If you’re looking for something more recent. On Monday night Lions safety James Ihedigo hosted a fundraiser event for his charity organization, HOPE Africa, which stands for “Helping Our People Excel,” as they provide scholarship to students of African decent throughout the United States to go to college.

Then if that’s not enough, on Tuesday morning, the Lions which included Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford, Stephen Tulloch, Jordan Thompson and even former Lion great, Lomas Brown kicked off their fall Meet Up & Eat Up at the Eastern Market. The group of Lions players not only spent the morning with third-graders from Marion Law Academy but they also helped to educate them about the importance of healthy snack choices and proper nutrition. Once again showing and proving to the world that are more positive stories about the NFL if people just take the time to notice.

“Anytime there is anything bad going on, it’s going to get blown up but at the same time there’s a lot of great things that guys are doing in the community and in NFL cities.” Johnson replied. “Here we are today, spending time with the youth to inspire them and teach them some of the do’s and don’ts when it comes to eating and taking care of their bodies.  Like I said teams around the NFL are doing this but the negative outweighs the positive.”

Stafford who loves to throw the ball to Johnson on game-day, shared a similar opinion.

“It’s a tough time in the NFL, everybody knows that.” Stafford said. “There have been some unfortunate things that have happen recently but all across the league, not only here in  Detroit but all across the league, teams are doing stuff in their community to help and it’s important for people to understand that and highlight if they can.

Although, I am focusing on the Lions’ great stories right now. Notice that both Stafford and Johnson brought up that there are multiple great stories all over the NFL and not just in Detroit.

A perfect example of that is Devon Still, the Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle who was given a spot on the practice squad to help pay for his daughter’s cancer treatment, has now been added to the team’s active roster.

Now for those who haven’t been following the story. Still was selected in the second round by the Bengals, with the 53rd overall selection in the 2012 NFL Draft. He played two seasons with the team before being cut in late August 2014, prior to the start of the season.  However that following day, the Bengals re-signed Still to the practice squad to help him pay for his daughter’s cancer treatment. On September 10, 2014 it was announced that Still was being moved to active status.

Though it may not seem like a big deal to some, the promotion will increase Still’s practice squad salary of $100,000 to at least $405,000 per season – the NFL minimum for active roster players.

Then if that’s not enough, the Bengals recently announced they will donate all proceeds from the sales of his No. 75 jerseys to pediatric cancer research. Which has caused fans to respond by buying the jerseys in record numbers, as they crashed the team’s pro shop website last Tuesday.

Keep in mind that Devon Still’s story is just one the recent great stories that have hit the news stands and air waves. There have been plenty of “feel good stories” before Still’s story and there will be plenty more “feel good stories” long after Still’s story circulates out of the media and that’s the positive that people need to remember about the NFL.

Again, I am not saying that we shouldn’t make a big deal about the current negative issues surrounding the NFL. However, my point is that as fans of the game or as people in general, we can’t allow the current negative issues that are surrounding the NFL to allow us to forget about the good we see and hear about everyday.

As I mentioned above, we as people sometimes like to focus so much on the negative, that we forget that there is a lot of positive things being done as well in the NFL. I see that same behavior everyday, as a someone who was raised and is still resident of the city of Detroit.

Is there negativity in the city of Detroit? Of course there is but there is some form of negativity in every city and every state, whether it be violence, political corruption or just overall stupidity. That being said, that doesn’t change the fact that there is plenty of positive things going in the city of Detroit. Whether it be the teachers who continue to take pride in their job as educators, despite not having the support, the tools and money that they deserve or whether it be a group of people who take the time plant a garden in Eastern Market, or the young man or woman who says no to drugs and yes to an education. I can go on and on about the positives but again as people, sometimes we don’t like to focus on that. We like to focus on the negative and complain about the negative instead of trying to initiate the positive change.

I’m not trying to be disrespectful but the NFL, had an image problem long before Ray Rice and Greg Hardy. True fans of the game and multimedia journalists who have covered football for years, already know that the punishment policy system was corrupt, whether it be with drug abuse, concussions, domestic violence or the overall suspensions of players.

However, because more news media outlets choose to focus on the current issues of domestic violence surrounding the NFL as a whole, now people want to have an uproar.

Like I said earlier, none of this to say that the ongoing issues with Rice, Hardy, Peterson and the issues of domestic violence are not important, because they are extremely important. Nevertheless, we as people can’t put everyone in the same group because of what one person did or what a few people did.

I think Lee Norris who played the character Marvin McFadden aka “Mouth”, on the hit show One Tree Hill, said it best, when he said ” say what you will about the ravages of sports in this corporate age where overpaid athletes expect prima donna treatment, but there is still something so unifying about sport in its purest form, when athletes rise above themselves and touch greatness and, in doing so, remind us all that we also have greatness inside of us.”

I think that quote above embodies everything that coach Caldwell was talking about starting with the fact that there are more great stories in the NFL than bad ones. More importantly this league is still built on great men, who have great character and integrity and who knowingly put their health at risk every day to entertain us and because they love the game and the fans who come out to support them.

Written by LBeasley (Lauren Beasley), Sports Editor of Radio One Detroit

For more of L-Beasley’s (Lauren Beasley) sports news and in-depth sports content, click here.

Lions Shine A Light On The Positive: The NFL Has ‘More Great Stories Than Bad Stories’ was originally published on wchbnewsdetroit.com

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