The NFL strongly discourages gun ownership and gives presentations describing their dangers, a league spokesman said.
“In some circumstances, such as for sport or protection, you may legally possess a firearm or other weapon,” the NFL policy says. “However, we strongly recommend that you not do so. Any weapon, particularly a firearm, is dangerous — especially so when it is in a vehicle or within reach of children and others not properly trained in its use.”
Despite these precautions, trouble sometimes finds these players.
Taylor’s death brought the danger into new perspective. The players’ union ran seminars about home protection.
“They weren’t promoting guns, but when you send that message out (about home invasions), you put a lot of fear in guys,” Steelers linebacker Larry Foote said. “A lot of guys probably see that they need to carry guns.”
Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb said he doesn’t own a gun.
“I don’t own any weapons unless you call a couple of Louisville sluggers and aluminum baseball bats some of my weapons,” he said. “But if you come into my house, I am going to turn into Barry Bonds on you.”
When going out on the town, most of the 1,500-plus players in the NFL don’t want to do anything to jeopardize their livelihoods. Whether they go to the movie theater, a nice restaurant or a dance club, they are often recognizable, either by face, physique, their car they drive or the clothes and jewelry they wear.
“I pray when I leave the house,” said Jaguars running back Fred Taylor, who is in the process of getting his gun license renewed.
Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams was in a limousine, trying to get away from a scene that had turned ugly, when he was shot and killed in Denver on Jan. 1, 2007.
Last summer, Raiders receiver Javon Walker, who was sitting next to Williams in the limo when he was killed, was beaten up and said he had $100,000 in jewelry and $3,000 cash stolen in Las Vegas. Police said Walker willingly got into the passenger seat of a Range Rover driven by his alleged assailants, an easy target because he was drunk.
Jaguars offensive lineman Richard Collier had to have his left leg amputated below the knee this year after being shot 14 times while sitting in a car outside an apartment complex waiting for two women he had met at a night club. Police believe the man accused of shooting him was retaliating for an earlier altercation at a night club.
“He’s ready to get out of there,” said Collier’s friend, Packers defensive lineman Kenny Pettway. “Just happy to be alive and ready to get out of there.”
Would carrying a gun have helped any of these athletes in those situations?
“It depends on how you look at it,” Rams cornerback Ron Bartell said. “Would you rather take your chances in a court of law or would you rather take your chances of putting me in a casket?”
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