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Graney: NFL shouldn’t have let Alvin Kamara play in Pro Bowl

Updated February 9, 2022 - 5:56 pm

LOS ANGELES — It’s simple: If the NFL knew at all what charges might be levied against Saints running back Alvin Kamara and still allowed him to play in the Pro Bowl, the league should be incredibly embarrassed.

It’s not a bad look. It’s an egregious one.

Kamara was eventually arrested at Allegiant Stadium and booked on suspicion of battery resulting in substantial bodily harm following the game Sunday.

He and friends allegedly beat a man unconscious at Drais After Dark Club.

Goodell’s explanation

“Our security team was contacted by the police in Las Vegas just prior to the game and said they’d like to meet with Alvin after the game,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said during his annual Super Bowl news conference Wednesday. “Our team made sure that happened. Our security team did what it was asked to do.”

Maybe. Police reports and timelines don’t specifically indicate how much the NFL knew about potential charges. It has been reported the NFL heard about the incident a few hours before the game. The league suggests they did not receive that much advance notice.

But it makes little sense to put Kamara on the field if there was any chance the situation was serious.

The game was a farce. The NFL knew it would be. Pro Bowls have become softer than a grade-school lunch break of two-handed touch.

I can’t imagine — other than those from New Orleans who might have been in town covering the event — that anyone would have noticed Kamara’s absence.

Perhaps the level of game shouldn’t matter. I can buy that. But allowing him to compete in such a joke of a competition with police waiting with questions was beyond shortsighted.

I also can’t imagine the NFL wasn’t told something — if not a great deal — about the alleged incident in time to make an informed decision. The police said it would wait until after the game to question Kamara. OK. But the NFL also has every right to pull one of its own.

It’s a messy situation all around. If those pictures shared across social media by the alleged victim of his face are verified to be accurate, this was a terrible beating.

There is also video of the incident. It should tell the entire story. It hasn’t been viewed publicly yet. It will be, for sure. Then we’ll all know.

The league preaches about accountability all the time. Goodell did again so Wednesday. This, then, was an easy choice to make. You don’t play Kamara. You even gain some positive publicity by not doing so.

A lazy narrative

You also knew this would occur: Various opinions following Kamara’s arrest — leading with a column in Deadspin —born the lazy narrative of blaming Las Vegas for such an incident.

They suggest that because of the attack and other legal issues encountered by NFL players (including those with the Raiders), that a team should have never been moved to Southern Nevada.

It’s a preposterous take. Those who drive at high rates of speed and kill a woman and her dog or brandish firearms while threatening to murder someone or allegedly beat the hell out of someone likely have it in them to do so elsewhere.

Location has nothing to do with it.

Players were getting arrested for terrible actions long before Las Vegas entered the NFL.

“We talk a lot about personal conduct that applies to all of us, not just players,” Goodell said. “It applies to every individual, including yours truly. And that is about making good decisions. Unfortunately, bad decisions also happen in other markets. I don’t look at anything specific to Las Vegas here.”

He got that part right.

Depending on how much his league knew about the Kamara incident, we can’t say the same about the other part just yet.

Ed Graney is a Sigma Delta Chi Award winner for sports column writing and can be reached at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.