Alcohol Abuse: A Rising Problem in the NFL
Roger Goodell, NFL commissioner, met with representatives of Mothers Against Drunk Drivers last week to discuss professional football players who drink and drive. Concerns were heightened in the wake of the the arrest of Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent who was arrested on charges of intoxication manslaughter following a wreck that killed fellow player Jerry Brown in Irving recently.
The arrest is not the first alcohol-related incident for Brent, and Goodell told the MADD group that the battle to fight alcohol among professional athletes is ongoing. Goodell also met with DeMaurice Smith, union leader for professional athletes in the NFL concerning the issue of drinking and driving. “It is a constant dialog,” Goodell said, referring to the problem and the effort to finding a solution. He said the meetings would have taken place even if the deadly accident had not occurred.
Police Reports State:
According to police reports, Brent was speeding when he flipped his vehicle. Police officers conducted a field sobriety test on Brent and arrested him on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. After Brown was pronounced dead, the charge was upgraded to intoxication manslaughter. The report states that when officers arrived on the scene of the accident, Brent was dragging Brown from the Mercedes vehicle, which was on fire before officers extinguished the small blaze.
“Anything that brings a negative light, when it’s the tragic circumstances we’ve seen over the last two weeks, that’s not good stuff for the league,” Goodell said. “We have to work hard to make sure we avoid those situations and represent the NFL the way our fans expect us to do it.”
Increased DUI Penalties “okay” With NFL
Goodell approves of increasing penalties for first offenses of drunk driving. The union representatives says the safe ride program they provide works, but players don’t use it because they are concerned with confidentiality, so they continue to drive themselves or choose friends to drive who may have also been drinking. Football stars are provided a chauffeur service by the players union for a small fee if not completely free. While professional players earn an average of $1.9 million each year, considering their safety should be of utmost importance.
Josh Brent’s Past
Brent pleaded guilty to DWI in 2009 in Illinois and was suspended from playing after the arrest. He was sentenced to 60 days in jail, two years probation and 200 hours of community service. He also paid a $2,000 fine. He successfully completed the terms of his probation in 2011, according to court records.
The MADD organization partners with the NFL in the fight against professional athletes who choose to drive drunk. It is ironic that the organization’s offices are located about a mile away from the scene of the accident, causing the wreck to hit home even harder. Even with help offered through the players union in the way of safe ride programs, the assistance of MADD officials who offer their services, and the game owners and officials, the bad choices to drink and drive continue to happen and ruin the lives caught in the wake of alcohol addiction.