Surely, the first step on the road to recovery from any addiction is to admit you have a problem in the first place. This, I believe, is the main problem with the league and its player’s relationship with alcohol.
The NFL is in denial.
There have been two high-profile DUI incidents involving NFL players in the last week or so. One was New York Giants offensive lineman David Diehl, and the other involved the Jacksonville Jaguar’s first round draft pick, Justin Blackmon.
Video has recently surfaced showing Blackmon being booked in by the Stillwater police department in Oklahoma. The rookie has apologized, and claims he is done with drinking. Perhaps he should have thought about that before he got into the car.
David Diehl was arrested in Queens after the car he was in ‘control’ of struck other vehicles.
The current NFL policy means that for a first DUI offense, a player can be fined up to a maximum of $50,000. Any subsequent violations could lead to suspensions.
Bear in mind that Denver Broncos players D.J Williams, Ryan McBean and Virgil Green were all recently suspended for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing drugs. I am not for one moment condoning the use of such drugs, but the NFL needs to get thins thing balanced out. David Diehl or Justin Blackmon could have killed someone whilst driving under the influence of alcohol.
The league must recognize that the cases of Diehl and Blackmon are just two that have come to light. How many more NFL players go out drinking for the night, and make it home without being pulled over by the police? I am sure it is more than the NFL would like to consider.
I know this is not a situation unique to football. It is an issue that is prevalent throughout society. Unfortunately, people think it’s still okay to get behind the wheel of a car after drinking. The fact remains that it is not okay to do this, and no one should allow anyone else to do this. Society, and the NFL needs to make this a taboo, and something that no one finds acceptable.
The remarkable thing is this: the NFL players association does have a car service where any player can ring a number and a car will be sent out to pick them up, wherever they are in the country. The NFLPA took over the running of the service from the league in 2009, after several players voiced concerns about teams discovering their out of hours activities.
The cost of the service runs at $85 dollars and hour, but surely this is a small price to pay, even for the most lowly of NFL players. The New York Giants even have their own team car service, so David Diehl really had no excuse.
Bud Light is the official beer sponsor of the NFL, and I have to question whether it is time for the league commissioner Roger Goodell to strongly consider severing all ties with any alcoholic beverage producer, light or otherwise. What kind of message does this send out to players? Especially if the league are looking to increase player discipline following any DUI incidents.
Any offenses involving alcohol need to be treated the same as any other drug violations. I think if the league started to suspend players for any DUI, even a first offense, we would soon see the number of incidents falling. As it stands at the moment though, players are more likely to get a slap on the wrist than any kind of punishment that might make them change their ways.