This Sunday a football game will be played. All your problems will melt away, unless, of course, you’re the type to wager any money (any money at all) on the first game of the exhibition season in which the starters will play maybe five snaps. (Confession: I once bet on a preseason game, and felt deep shame).

You’ll forget about the offseason, and especially the height of the dog days between late June and the end of July, when mini camps end, and the only football being played anywhere is the sad long toss between you and your dog. It’s over now, though, and we’re safe. We’re all safe.

But if the memory blockage due to the start of the NFL season doesn’t sink in too deeply, you’ll surely recall the growth of a pandemic of idiocy that saw NFL players struggle with the concept of drinking and driving, or rather not driving after drinking. The reality is that while the optics were frightening–especially when several players were arrested multiple times–the level of DUI/DWI incidents involving NFL players this offseason wasn’t any higher than the amount of inebriated driving in society as a whole. Also, the number of NFL arrests so far this year are up compared to last year, but only very, very marginally (there were 44 in 2011, and 48 through seven months of 2012).

Still, optics alone can be damaging for a league which very much prefers an image that’s shiny and neat over one that’s littered with broken windshield glass and smashed parked cars. That’s why last week the NFL and NFLPA met to discuss the rash of arrests this offseason, and disciplinary measures that can or should be taken.

Word of the meeting surfaced last night through a report from Mike Freeman of CBS Sports. Commissioner Roger Goodell said that the focus going forward won’t be on installing new policies, and instead existing rules will be fortified.

From Freeman:

Goodell says he wants to focus on eradicating two main issues: drinking and driving and domestic violence. The main way the league wants to do this, he said, is strengthen already existing policies. The league may also add some new ones, assuming they can work out something with the union. Both sides have pledged to keep the substance of their talks private.

Under the current substance abuse policy a player arrested for DUI is subject to evaluation and entry into the substance program and (for a first offense with no aggravating circumstances, i.e., someone injured) a fine of two game checks up to a maximum of $50,000. Discipline for second or subsequent violations would likely be a suspension.

Domestic violence falls under the league’s personal conduct policy. Under this policy any player or league employee that, for example, is convicted of domestic violence attack can be subject to fines and suspension.

“We’ve had some really good discussions with the union,” Goodell said. “Now we just have to see if we can carry through with them.”

There will be more arrests this year, and more moronic behavior and reasons for the general public to make casual blanket statements about the character of the average NFL player, when in reality it’s mostly the proverbial minority that’s acting a fool.

But when that minority is minimized even further, those blankets of negativity will also shrink. That’s the goal here: to give the public fewer reasons to generically slap the mindless thug label on players.

And now the links part of the links post…

  • The Dolphins QB competition should be over. Hand a participation ribbon to Matt Moore, and the shiny bright gold trophy to David Garrard. Ryan Tannehill? Despite the near daily proclamation that he’s looking super awesome, he’s mostly playing against the second team defense. During his few snaps against the first team the true Tannehill emerges, and he’s a guy who’s raw, and needs a year of education and development. [Pro Football Focus]
  • Ryan Mathews is fine after his car accident. He returned to practice just 48 hours later. [San Diego Union-Tribune]
  • The Giants’ doctors are remaining optimistic about Terrell Thomas’ ACL injury, thinking that he still has a chance to play this season. But usually a visit to see Dr. James Andrews results in instant death. [Big Blue View]
  • Cullen Jenkins left Eagles practice earlier this week, but he was on the field this morning for the walkthrough. [Jeff McLane on Twitter]
  • “People say, ‘Stay healthy.’ What does that mean?” — some serious truth talk from Giants wide receiver Domenik Hixon. [Newark Star-Ledger]
  • To alter or not to alter a quarterback’s mechanics. Can mechanics be altered once the motion is firmly embedded into muscle memory? And even if they can, is it a good idea to mess around with a wonky motion that works? [The Sideline View]
  • La’Ron Landry is still bigger than you. [Albert Breer on Twitter]
  • You need to read Ryan Kerrigan’s blog right now, and then picture him as a swimmer at the age of seven. Also, trying to convert the back half of a double play with him bearing down on you doesn’t seem like it would end well. []
  • Jamaal Charles has located his mojo. [Kansas City Star]
  • The Redskins could start using the pistol on offense this year. No, Robert Griffin III won’t be shooting people. [Hogs Haven]