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NFL needs ‘innocent until proven guilty’ mindset

Former+Ohio+State+defensive+back+Gareon+Conley+intercepts+a+pass+in+a+2015+game+against+Hawaii.++Conley+was+drafted+later+than+predicted+after+a+young+woman+alleged+that+Conley+raped+her+in+a+Cleveland+hotel.+
Former Ohio State defensive back Gareon Conley intercepts a pass in a 2015 game against Hawaii.  Conley was drafted later than predicted after a young woman alleged that Conley raped her in a Cleveland hotel.

Former Ohio State defensive back Gareon Conley intercepts a pass in a 2015 game against Hawaii. Conley was drafted later than predicted after a young woman alleged that Conley raped her in a Cleveland hotel.

Chris Russell/Columbus Dispatch/TNS

Chris Russell/Columbus Dispatch/TNS

Former Ohio State defensive back Gareon Conley intercepts a pass in a 2015 game against Hawaii. Conley was drafted later than predicted after a young woman alleged that Conley raped her in a Cleveland hotel.

Jared Serre, Chief Editor

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Nearing 3pm on April 27, principal Jeff Legan wished all of us Browns fans a happy “Super Bowl.”

April 27 was the first night of the 2017 NFL Draft—the Super Bowl for hundreds of former college players who hope to make their dream of becoming a professional athlete a reality.

One of the top players to come off the board was Gareon Conley, a defensive back from the Ohio State University.

Conley, one of the top defensive prospects in the draft, had been accused of rape just a few weeks earlier. While he did not slip out of the first round, he did get selected much later than he had been predicted in mock drafts.

In regards to Conley, it seems as if he will be eventually cleared in the investigation. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Conley passed a polygraph test.

Other players were not as lucky as Conley. The Cleveland Browns selected defensive tackle Caleb Brantley in the fifth round, after it had been widely speculated he would be a member of the top 50 selections.

Brantley, a former University of Florida Gator, had been accused of assault days before the draft. It seems as if he will be cleared also, according to his attorney.

However, former Oklahoma Sooner running back Joe Mixon was selected in the second round (where he was projected), despite there being evidence of him punching a female student at an Oklahoma restaurant in 2014.

The NFL has a problem. Teams need to value the idea of “innocent until proven guilty.”

As I mentioned earlier, the draft is equivalent to the Super Bowl for hundreds of players. To most, the three day selection meeting is the most important three days of their life. Every player selected has their life changed forever.

Unfortunately, the system is flawed. Conley and Brantley had been preparing for this day for the majority of their lives. All the countless hours of work and effort was to provide them with a way to support their families and live their dreams.

However, because somebody wants to “cash in” on a player’s value, their lives have been changed in somewhat negative ways. In Brantley’s case, his dream could be incredibly short lived as the Browns do not have a huge investment in him.

This is one of the reasons the NFL is going down hill. They flip-flop constantly. While players like Conley and Brantley are technically still innocent of their crimes, players like Mixon receive a pushcart on through.

This isn’t a new thing. In 2015, the Dallas Cowboys signed defensive end Greg Hardy, even after he had been surrounded by controversy due to domestic violence.

Commissioner Roger Goodell has always discussed (although vaguely) concussion issues and the marijuana debate. I think it’s time that the league addresses this issue as well, and that includes finding a new commissioner who will actually “take action.”

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NFL needs ‘innocent until proven guilty’ mindset