As the Dallas Cowboys mourn the loss of Jerry Brown, 25, who died Friday night in a drunk driving accident as the passenger in a car driven by Josh Brent, who was later found to have a blood alcohol level twice the legal limit, NFL drunk driving policies have come under review.
What should the NFL do to stop drunk driving?
Many have started questioning whether the NFL does enough to curb the bad decisions made by the nearly 1,700 young men who make on average $1.9 million dollars per season and many of which have a penchant for partying.
So what responsibility does the NFL have for parenting these players and could they do more to stop NFL players for drinking and driving?
In defense of the NFL, many fans point out there may only be so much an employer can do to control the behavior of their employees, although critics of the current NFL policies argue that if the NFL were to raise the fines and increase the game suspensions then this could be a step in the right direction. Fines of approximately $50,000 are currently imposed, but many argue this is too low to act as an actual deterrent.
Recently, the NFL has been pushing for a two-game suspension, but the union has refused this update. Other proponents of stiffer penalties argue that the punishment should be so harsh that a player would not consider driving drunk- maybe a one year suspension. Others argue that teams should be more hesitant to recruit and draft players who have a history of bad behavior, but if they are not willing to do this than maybe the simplest solution is to install an ignition interlock device on a player’s car.
Others argue the NFL has done more than the average employer. For instance, the NFL currently offers a ride program for all NFL players, no questions asked. The reasons more players aren’t willing to make a call varies, but many suggest it’s the feeling of invincibility or the false sense that they are “not really that drunk.”
So how bad is the problem? On average 13 NFL players per year are arrested for DUI but does this constitute a significant problem? Consider, this percentage is lower than the general public. Others argue that celebrities and rich football players may be less likely to be charged with DUI than the general public, which could make the statistics lower.
Another question is one of personal responsibility and freedom. There are severe DUI laws and drunk driving penalties that deal harshly with drivers who drive under the influence. Whether we are discussing putting an ignition interlock device in all vehicles or just those of NFL players we must ask ourselves how much of our liberty are we willing to forfeit in the name of safety.
Is the NFL responsible for babysitting grown men? I’m not sure. Maybe these men should have learned good behavior many years before entering the NFL. Either way, it’s a great question; one which should be answered before another player is killed because someone made a bad decision to drink and drive.
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