Richmond, VA- Out of all professional sports, players in the NFL net the most DUI arrests. This year alone, at least 10 players have been busted for driving under the influence. Players have paid millions of dollars in fines, and late last year one player lost his life in a DUI accident. This is a problem they need to address and have attempted to do so, though it may prove ineffective.
Now, an app launched by the league’s player association, will promote safe rides for players and hopefully curtail the number of arrests.
In August, the NFL Players Association said they would consider actions that would help curb drunk driving among the league’s players. They even considered tougher sanctions on players who are arrested for DUI such as increased fines and mandatory suspensions. But it appears they have settled for a phone app instead.
The NFL Players Association teamed up with tech company Uber to develop an app that allows players to schedule a ride wherever they are. The New York Times described the app as a “digital dispatcher” which will send a car to pick up an inebriated player in half of the 31 cities with NFL teams.
The Uber app relies on GPS so players don’t have to know their exact location in order to get a ride. “This generation is more tied to having a mobile device,” DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the players association explained in a phone conference to introduce the app. “If we can move to a world where we are using the phenomenon to increase the safety of our players, then the partnership with Uber is a no-brainer.”
Players who use the service will get a $200 credit as a reward. But to players who make millions, could a $200 credit really motivate them to use the service?
The app would complement an already existing service provided to players, who are too drunk to drive, where they can have a chauffeur pick them up at any location and give them a ride a home. This has been a long-standing service, but it hasn’t been used effectively by players.
This service was available to Dallas Cowboys’ Josh Brent who killed teammate Jerry Brown in a drunken driving accident late last year. Brent was well-over the legal limit when he hit a curb and flipped his Mercedes, killing Brown instantly. That was Brent’s second DUI arrest.
Since the untimely death of Jerry Brown, almost a dozen players have been arrested and charged with DUI. These players have paid $2.4 million in fines and $2.9 million in salary, the New York Times reported. Brown however paid a much higher cost.
The DUI problem in the NFL doesn’t appear to be a transportation issue, it’s a cultural issue. Most people, including pro-athletes, who drink and drive know they shouldn’t, but they do it anyway. Americans just don’t think the issue is as serious as it is until someone dies, and even then their memory is short lived.
Many of the players who are charged with intoxicated driving get a slap on the wrist from the courts and their league. Imposing mandatory game suspensions and higher fines would be a more effective DUI deterrent than a driving service or an app.