SBD/December 11, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Calls For NFL To Crack Down On DUIs Increase Following Jerry Brown's Death

Brent and all NFLers are offered a confidential car service by the league
The death of Cowboys LB Jerry Brown caused by teammate Josh Brent's drunk-driving accident can add "urgency to the need for the NFL and the union to attack drunk driving," according to Jarrett Bell of USA TODAY. The NFL can "begin by changing an alcohol policy that is so weak a player can get arrested for DUI after playing on 'Monday Night Football,' then take his place in the lineup the next Sunday," as what happened with Falcons RB Michael Turner earlier this season. A four-game suspension "should be the minimum for first-time DUI offenders." Bell: "A tougher policy will send the right message. And save lives" (USA TODAY, 12/11). Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio said the NFL and NFLPA “have been wrestling for years now over how to deal with DUI first offenses not involving any accident or injury or death." The NFL wants to have a "suspension for a first offense," while the union "has been resisting that." Florio: "This is how collective-bargaining works. ... But this is one of those rare situations where the two sides need to come together and say, ‘We need to do what’s in the best interest of the game, what’s in the best interest of the players.’" Players need to "contact the NFLPA ... and say, ‘We want there to be strict penalties’” (“Pro Football Talk,” NBC Sports Network, 12/10). ESPN’s Merril Hoge said the NFL should implement a "no-tolerance policy." Hoge: "If you’re in college and you get a DUI, you are no longer eligible to come to the National Football League. You are now just eliminated. If you get a DUI while you are in the National Football League, you are no longer a part of the National Football League." Hoge said if players were not allowed to play anymore after a DUI, players would say, "I’m going to make a better choice and I’m not going to take an innocent life in the process" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 12/10).

NOT TAKING ADVANTAGE: In Jacksonville, Gene Frenette wondered why NFL players "don't take better precautions when it comes to consuming alcohol." NFL players "don't always take advantage of their own privileged life." They have "plenty of money to afford a limo driver or have teammates/friends come get them if they need a ride" (JACKSONVILLE.com, 12/10). ESPN's Ron Jaworski noted the NFL and NFLPA "have a mechanism in place to avoid this type of tragedy. It ends up being the players' choice to use that mechanism and unfortunately, most of the players choose not to use it" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 12/10). However, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported some players "do take advantage" of the car service provided by the league. The NFLPA estimates that 55-60 players "per month utilize the confidential service during a 12-month calendar year" (“Monday Night Countdown,” ESPN, 12/10).

STICKING AROUND: REUTERS' Simon Evans wrote the "tragic, unrelated deaths" of Brown and Chiefs LB Jovan Belcher "may have triggered fresh debate about the behavior of some of the sport's competitors, but has done nothing to harm the game's enormous popularity in the United States." Even after "the latest violent deaths there was no indication fans were turning away" (REUTERS, 12/10). NBC’s Bob Costas last night appeared on CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight” and said the NFL “is at a crossroads because there’s an issue about the fundamental nature of the game." Costas: "It’s so popular and so profitable, but it takes a tremendous toll on many of those who play it. Not just body, but as we’re now learning, mind and emotions” ("Piers Morgan Tonight," CNN, 12/10). 
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