There's a well chronicled history of violence in the NFL -- it is, after all, a very dangerous sport. But there's also a heavy awareness of the even darker violent side of professional football off the field. Numerous players have been accosted, robbed, beaten and even killed in usually completely unnecessary acts of violence.
And, based on Dave Fleming's Mag article surrounding this violence, you would be amazed at how succinctly aware and terrified many players are with regards to potential intrusions on their private lives, almost a year after the Sean Taylor tragedy.
"We are targets," says Buccaneers corner Ronde Barber. "We need to be aware of that everywhere we go."
[...] "I don't think the NFL is gonna ever be the same," says [Clinton] Portis. "As a football player, Sean thrived on instilling fear in people on the field. Then you wake up in the middle of the night, and you hear something rattling around in your house, and in a split second-now the fear is in you."
[...]Fred Taylor, meanwhile, has equipped his Jacksonville home with every conceivable security apparatus. "I still don't think I have enough," he says. "Who knows what's enough? I wouldn't say I'm safe.
"I don't know what safe is."
In other words, yes, these gentlemen that are idolized for their on-field bravery and relentless drive and attack are, pardon the cheddar, shrouded in fear when roaming the outside world. But that's because Barber is absolutely spot on -- as famous celebrities with an even more insane fan base that sometimes come from questionable backgrounds, NFL players have the ideal recipe to become targets for people seeking to gain from their fame or try and rebel against it.
I say that, of course, completely lacking in any understanding why people would react in a seemingly random and violent nature towards athletes; but the fact remains that they do.
And even though Roger Goodell (as Fleming notes) mentioned that there needs to be something done to change the landscape, it's a tough road to hoe. And seeing the violence suddenly ended would be even more surprising than finding out about how much fear these stars live in.