The Talker: NFL teams may check draft prospects' tattoos - FOX 32 News Chicago

The Talker: NFL teams may check draft prospects' tattoos

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The NFL is reportedly looking into the possibility of having police experts inspect players' tattoos for gang symbols or other gang references.

The immediate cause of the concern is Aaron Hernandez, the superstar player from the New England Patriots who is charged with murder. There's been speculation Hernandez is -- or has been -- in a gang.

TMZ got hold of a photo from his high school days that is believed to show him giving a gang sign. After his arrest, police in Massachusetts reportedly checked Hernandez's tattoos to see if any were gang symbols, or references to gangs.

Police have said the answer is "no," but the case seems to have given the NFL an idea. A reporter for CBS Sports says the NFL is looking into having police experts check players' tattoos before the players are allowed onto a team.

There's good reason for sports leagues to be sensitive of any notion connecting them or their players to gangs. Athletes, for better or worse, are viewed by a lot of young people as role models and the leagues want them to be good role models. It's better for business and the NFL is a $9 billion business.

Chicago, the Bulls, and the NBA got a taste of the media's sensitivity to gang issues when this photo of Derrick Rose making a gang sign caused an uproar. The photo was taken when he was in college and Rose is not in a gang. He said the photo was a bad joke that showed extremely poor judgment.

One concern is about the NFL investigating tattoos is that it could be seen as a form of profiling. The vast majority of tattoos are innocent, personal expressions. Hernandez, even if he did have gang ties, would be a rare exception.

So is it reasonable for all players with tattoos to be viewed thru a lens of potential criminality?

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