Appleton police are still putting their reports together in the Nick Barnett case and the Outagamie County district attorney's office will then get that evidence and decide if Barnett should be charged with anything after he was arrested last weekend for allegedly shoving a woman at a downtown nightclub.

According to a report in today's Appleton Post Crescent, the incident may be overblown.

What isn't overblown is the fact that it's not worth it.  Stay out of trouble, or perhaps better put, away from trouble. 

My experience with pro athletes is you think you know somebody and you find out you really don't.  Not that I'm that close with Nick Barnett, but my impression is that he's a pretty good guy.  Does that mean he's not capable of causing trouble?  No, he probably is very capable. 

But as the story reads that Barnett and several other players were being pestered by fans for autographs, you have to know that's going to happen.  You have to know that denying a fan an opportunity for an autograph in a bar may lead to trouble.  Alcohol always makes people more brave and/or foolish and they begin to think it's their right to an autograph or a conversation with a player.  When that player doesn't cooperate, then there's potential trouble.

Is that what happened last weekend?  Not sure.  But I know this.  You play for the Packers or any other pro sports team.  Unless you rent the room out and make it a private party, contact with fans is going to take place.  If you're not prepared to deal with it in a polite fashion, then stay home. 

Of course, that's not right.  A player and his friends and family should be entitled to privacy.  But in a climate where the NFL is looking to clamp down on players that can't stay out of trouble, you have to go the extra yard in making sure you stay away from it.  In the end, if the league comes down with a fine, or even worse, a suspension, is it really worth the trouble? 

Barnett talks about being a leader on this Packers defense.  I got news for him.  Leaders aren't hanging around bars and getting into conflicts.  They lead the good life, keep their nose clean, set a good example for the younger players and get it done on the field. 

Regardless of how this comes out, hopefully Barnett will have learned a lesson and his teammates will learn from it too.


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