In the past two weeks, four NFL players have been arrested for driving under the influence: David Diehl from the Giants, Justin Blackmon from the Jaguars, Jerome Felton from the Vikings and Nick Failey from the Lions.
I don’t want to get on my high horse and make this a Big Deal, but luckily, I don’t have to – it’s already been done, several times over, because this happens every season. You’d think the players would learn their lesson from the embarrassment/legal trouble/social stigma their teammates face, but some of these guys are repeat offenders. Our Jags writer covered it pretty well in her article about the Blackmon case (read it here). What are our role models doing?!
According to a recent survey, NFL players get arrested for DUIs more often than athletes of other sports (and because they have bigger bodies- can you imagine how much alcohol they’re drinking?). But compared with normal licensed drivers in the United States, NFL players actually get arrested at about the same rate as the rest of us. So who are we to judge, really?
But judge, and demand answers, we do. Skipping the “what is wrong with society” question, let’s go straight for “what is the NFL doing wrong?” In 2009, the NFL turned their free Safe Ride program over to the NFL Players Association because players didn’t trust the service enough to use it. Players worried that teams used the service to gather information about the players’ private lives. But the new service, which is no longer free, is also rarely used (and while $85 per hour may be a little more than calling a cab, it’s not like these players can’t afford it).
While I’d like to suggest all NFL players stay in and watch movies with me instead of getting drunk and possibly driving, this seems the least feasible answer. Perhaps what I can suggest instead is better communication between players and their organizations to create a program that would be better utilized (buddy system anyone?). A bottom-up model, rather than a union or NFL-enforced model might be more receptive to players.
What do you think? Is drunk driving, something completely unrelated to the game of football, something teams should be focusing on more? Or should the NFL respect the privacy of its players and refuse to babysit them? What sort of solution do you propose?
Let me know in the comments below!
Emily Ritter is a contributing writer to Aerys Offsides. For more from Emily, read her super-great bio or follow her on Twitter, @ebritter2.