Sometime soon, probably within days, there will be an NFL player in the news for reasons related to weapons or domestic violence. Or maybe both, in which case we can only hope the next incident won't be as horrific as the last.
It's going to happen because that, along with athletes driving drunk, is the history of the league. Violence and recklessness are the way of the game. And all too often, they also are a way of life.
Which is why it was reassuring to hear that Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs last week surrendered his seven guns, including an AK-47, to comply with a court order.
Suggs has over the years had several disputes with his girlfriend, Candace Williams, who has alleged the athlete punched her and dragged her alongside his car. There were two 911 calls from the Suggs home last month.
The guns were submitted to comply with a court order. Bless the court. Though Suggs has not been charged with a crime, his chances of shooting someone have been dramatically curtailed.
William Alperstein, the attorney for Suggs, says his client and Williams "are resolving their issues." Maybe they are. Might that be easier with guns removed from the equation?
With the murder-suicide committed Dec. 1 by Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, guns and domestic violence are back in the face of the NFL and football in general. Coaches and players are talking and tweeting. Fans are watching and listening.
Even Bob Costas, one of the august TV sports voices in the nation, is speaking out, issuing a commentary last week calling for stricter gun control and positing Belcher and his murdered girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, would be alive if not for Belcher's possession of guns.
That can be debated. It is being debated. It should be debated.
What can't be debated is the pattern of violence, sometimes involving guns, between those within the football culture and the people they claim to love.
In the weeks before the Belcher murder-suicide, 285-pound defensive tackle Ventrell Jenkins of the CFL Montreal Alouettes was arrested for assaulting his girlfriend, Dr. Deidre Hudson, who sustained gruesome facial injuries.
Jenkins was, according to witnesses, saying "I love you" to Hudson while repeatedly punching her in the face.
Such twisted emotions are not unusual in domestic violence cases.
Another incident last month involved former Seattle Seahawks tight end Jerramy Stevens, arrested in Seattle for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend, soccer star Hope Solo. Though Solo's brother called the cops, Hope declined to cooperate -- despite evidence of physical altercation.
A few days later, Stevens and Solo reportedly were married.
Does this pattern sound familiar?
It wasn't long ago that Chad Johnson, then a Miami Dolphin, was arrested for assaulting his wife. And former Chiefs running back Larry Johnson was arrested for choking his girlfriend. And Dallas wideout Dez Bryant allegedly assaulted his mother. I suppose we should be thankful that neither pulled the trigger of a gun.
Domestic violence is addressed within the NFL's conduct policy, vowing fines and suspensions. But the planet's most popular and powerful sports enterprise has done little outreach.
When advocates circulated an online petition hoping to persuade the NFL to allow it to piggyback on the signature pink of Breast Cancer Awareness Month with its own signature blue for Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the league would not allow it.
Domestic violence is more prevalent than breast cancer -- and can be just as deadly.
It's time the NFL put its full tonnage behind this scourge, from education campaigns to abuser interventions to counseling programs to public service announcements.
The league knows too much to plead ignorance. It realizes the lines sometimes get blurred and the distinction between being "manly" on the field and being "manly" at home gets lost. Sometimes the player who can't stop himself from kicking an opponent is the man who can't resist hitting his wife or girlfriend.
Or, worse, he is the man who reaches for one of his guns.
The predisposition to violence and recklessness is a side effect of so many years of a high-intensity life on the edge, where harder hits reap higher rewards.
The NFL has to recognize this and feel an obligation to react. Just as the Junior Seau suicide sounded an alarm on behalf of silently suffering retired players, the Belcher murder-suicide is the piercing wake-up call on behalf of deeply troubled active players.
More than ever, young men are desensitized to violence and misogynistic behavior and murder by handgun. The NFL needs to get tired of making tentative attempts to address this. It needs to take the lead.
While scrambling to express concern about the effects of concussions and convey sensitivity toward treatment, the league also has a high-profile opening to fight one of the most common, and sometimes deadly, issues among its players.