NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell constantly props himself up on the reputation of being concerned about player safety, and keeping the players from casting any disparaging shadows on “The Shield”, meaning the uber-recognizable NFL logo. There is a bigger issue that Mr. Goodell needs to fix first.
DUI, DWI, Drunk Driving…call it whatever you want. This is a madness that must be taken seriously by the league, and the commissioner needs to recognize that, and fast. This past weekend’s senseless loss of life in Irving, Tx. only pinpoints the need for action.
The NFL and NFLPA have numerous programs in place to prevent players from driving while impaired. Any NFL player has a free ride at their disposal with just the dial of a phone number. Let’s face it, many of them have their own personal drivers. For any NFL player to get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol, whether they feel they are impaired or not, is completely inexcusable.
Yet every year we hear about players being arrested for driving under the influence. Every year, there is a story that could have been prevented. Usually the story seems to only affect the player and the team. That all changed this past weekend when Dallas Cowboys DT Josh Brent was involved in a single car accident when he was allegedly intoxicated, and killed his best friend and teammate, LB Jerry Brown.
The Cowboys are now without one of their own forever, and an unborn child is never going to know his/her father, all because one player decided to make a poor choice and get behind the wheel when he was reportedly in no condition to drive. Not just senseless…stupid.
Former NFL player and current ESPN analyst Merril Hoge gave the most sobering and no-nonsense take on this subject I’ve heard to date:
“The league needs to reassess, because there had been incidents with DUIs with him before….I think the National Football League needs to take a no-tolerance policy in this situation. In college, if you have a DUI, you are not eligible to come to the National Football League. If you have one while you are playing in the National Football League, you are immediately done in the NFL.”
I couldn’t agree with Hoge more. Does that seem harsh? Not at all to me. There are plenty of professions where you are prohibited from being hired, or are dismissed if you have a DUI on your record. Why should it be any different in the NFL, where there is absolutely no good reason or excuse for a player ever being arrested for such a crime.
Hopefully Commissioner Goodell will take this opportunity to strike while the iron is hot, and lay down a law for the players that actually makes sense and saves lives, rather than just constantly handing out pointless fines and suspensions for infractions that merely embarrass players and the league.
Nothing will ever bring Jerry Brown back, and that is incredibly sad. The NFL has an opportunity to make something good come out of it by making sure players know that they are serious about this, and that their careers are at stake if they make the choice to drive when they shouldn’t.