I've had the question posed to me a number of times: "What's going on with the Steelers? Why are so many guys getting in trouble?"
The answer has many facets.
First and foremost is the fact that players in the NFL today make more money and are better-known than at any other time in league history.
Football in the past couple of decades surpassed baseball as America's favorite sport and in this digital age where sponsors are constantly using stars to sell their wares and ESPN constantly brings these guys into America's living rooms, NFL players are more well-known than ever before.
Not only does that make them celebrities, it makes them targets.
At the same time, the money and fame can inflate egos, making a guy that was perhaps humble at one time, change over the course of a few years. In 17 years of covering the NFL, I've seen it happen again and again.
Money and the salary cap also become a factor. Teams can get rid of coaches or front office people a lot easier than they can players. The players know this and, if they so choose, can take advantage of it.
The other thing about the digital age is that not only does it allow the media to perform its job more easily - making plenty of information readily available - it also allows for forums such as this one to discuss at great length anything that comes up.
I'm not saying that's a bad things. Fans should have places they can go to talk to others of a like mind. But, it does allow for the flames to be fanned on issues.
And because information is so readily available, things cannot be covered up or hidden as easily as they could, say, 10 to 20 years ago.
Think about it this way: Remember Penn State's squeaky-clean image of 20 years ago. Now think about the trouble Penn State players have gotten into in recent years. Think those kind of things - frat fights, public intoxication, etc. – didn't happen before? It's now much more difficult for things to be swept aside.
There have always been guys who get in trouble on every professional team's roster. When you are dealing with that many people - particulary young men, they are going to do some stupid things.
And let's face it, the NFL isn't populated by choir boys. These guys are playing in the NFL because they're stronger, faster, tougher than 99.9 percent of the population. In many cases, they've been pampered throughout their lives because of that.
But they also have to be smart enough to know that they cannot put themselves into situations where they not only jeopardize their own character and/or wealth, but also the image of the league and their respective team.
This current group of Steelers has had its share of run-ins, both minor and major, with the law. And that is out of character for a team that has prided itself on not having players like that.
But it's not a problem that is foreign to all NFL teams or sports teams in general.
What can the team do about it? Short of releasing every player who has an indiscetion, something that's not likely to happen, it can pull in the reigns on these guys and also educate them better on what will and will not be tolerated.
When a player is guaranteed a large sum of money, he begins to feel as if he's bullet proof. And professional athletes feel that way already. If they didn't, they would not be able to do many of the things they do in their respective sports.
Has Mike Tomlin given this team too much freedom in terms of treating them like men and professionals? Perhaps.
But the reality is that there's not a lot he can do short of releasing offenders outright - again, something that's not going to happen in every case.
He's in the business of coaching a football team, not babysitting.