Right now, people throughout Arkansas are counting down the days until the start of the college football season, which officially starts next Saturday when the Razorbacks take on UTEP. Many others are also counting down the days until the start of the 2015 National Football League season, which kicks off Thursday, September 10.

As universally popular as the NFL is, it cannot be denied that it has been dealing with a host of controversial issues lately from head injuries and allegations of cheating to the off-the-field antics and arrests of some of its high-profile players. Furthermore, it cannot be denied that these issues, particularly the player arrests, have perhaps served to hurt its image.

Indeed, these high-profile arrests coupled with unflattering stories in the popular media have resulted in many people referring to the NFL as the “National Felon League.”

However, is this really a fair characterization?

According to the author of one recently published study, the answer is a resounding no.

The study, performed by researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas and Florida State University, set out to determine whether the arrest rates of NFL players were really any higher than the general population, an insinuation made in seemingly countless reports.

Here, the researchers compared and contrasted the overall arrest rates for property crime, violent crime, public order crime (i.e., disorderly conduct, drug possession), and total crime among men between the ages of 20-39 and 1,952 NFL players from 2000 to 2013.

They determined that the arrest rate among the general population was roughly one-and-a-half to two times greater than that of the NFL players for every year of the study.

Indeed, the only exception they could find was that the arrest rate for violent crime was higher among NFL players than the general population for at least six years before ultimately receding.

The researchers, whose work is published in the Journal of Criminal Justice, indicated that they will be expanding on their work in future studies.

If you are under investigation or have been formally charged with any sort of felony or misdemeanor, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible to ensure the protection of your rights and your future.