Did you watch the Super Bowl this weekend? If you’re like hundreds of millions of people around the world, you probably did.

And if you watched the showdown between the New York Giants and the Baltimore Ravens, you couldn’t miss Baltimore’s imposing inside linebacker, Ray Lewis. From his pre-game boogie, to the announcers hyping his “fairy-tale-like” season after he was named the game’s MVP, Lewis dominated the telecast.

But Lewis should be used to all the attention, considering he has been in the national spotlight since he was accused of a double murder before the season began. The charges against Lewis were eventually reduced after he pled guilty to obstruction of justice and testified against his former friends. Some fairy tale.

As if this “feel-good story” wasn’t enough, we all had the privilege of hearing how Giants’ quarterback Kerry Collins courageously overcame his alcoholism to prove that he actually isn’t a racist after all.

Is this what the NFL has come to? Are we to think that these people are our heroes, as the media would have us believe? Have we become so desensitized to violence that now we hardly blink when hearing of the arrest of another player?

It would appear so, as Lewis is hardly an aberration with many big-name players currently serving time.

Former Green Bay Packers’ tight end Mark Chmura is presently in jail, pending the outcome of his current case. He is accused of sexually assaulting the girl that babysat for his two children! I know that he is innocent until proven guilty, but if the charges are true, what does that say about the type of players in the NFL?

If it’s guilt you’re looking for, look no further than Rae Carruth. The former Carolina Panthers’ wideout was arrested on charges of murdering his pregnant ex-girlfriend so he wouldn’t have to pay child support. What a standout guy! I can see how making upward of $3 million a year wouldn’t be enough to live on. To be fair to Carruth, he was only found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder and was sentenced to a minimum of 18 years, 11 months jail time.

As illustrated above, criminals seem to be abound in the NFL. Yet, how can a league that encourages its players to “kill” on the field expect them to be model citizens off of it? NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue says that the league is doing everything in its power to improve the character of its players. But in the NFL, winning is the bottom line and players with questionable pasts, a la the enigmatic Lawrence Phillips, are always given multiple chances to succeed.

Now, I understand that this is America, the land of opportunity. And I believe that people do deserve a second chance. But the proverbial line must be drawn somewhere. The trend of violence is quickly growing into an epidemic and with classy superstars such as Steve Young and John Elway retiring, steps must be taken to improve the type of people playing and coaching in the NFL, not the talent level of the players.

Matt Heitner is a Sports reporter at the Daily Nexus.