Forget getting arrested, fines and suspensions. Diehl has to explain to her... (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
It seems like there's a foul wind o' blowing into Breathalyzer lately? NFL players who can't walk a straight line - let alone see - after one too many Mojitos are driving their cars. Can't leave the Ferrari or BMW in the strip club parking lot, eh?
The NFL started a program called "Safe Ride" in the hope of curtailing DUI incidence among its players. A player simply had to place a call, and an off duty police officer would arrive - no questions asked - to drive them home. It worked well for a while. Then the NFL Players Association stepped in, citing player concerns the Safe Ride program was being used to spy on the players. The NFL passed control of the program to the NFLPA. They trashed the use of off duty officers, and hired an outside firm to handle the job of driving home its members.
The program slowly lost its luster with players. In hindsight, the NFLPA appears to have stopped encouraging use of the program with players. In any event, players are dropping like DUI flies. Not having the sense God gave geese, it's just too much bother to make a phone call after a night of drinking. I mean, who can remember phone numbers anyway? Oh, don't give me the "put the phone number on speed dial" thing. Cell phones only hold a few thousand phone numbers, and an NFL player has priorities...
In the latest "Driving While Stupid" arrest, New York Giants David Diehl hit new heights. Come to think of it, he actually hit Queens, NY. He bounced his BMW off a bunch of parked cars, then took a little snooze behind the wheel while he waited for his "Safe Ride" by ON DUTY police officers. This service provided, not only a safe ride to a place to sleep, but handy photos of Diehl looking groggy in both frontal and side views... Fans are going to dig getting his autograph on these pithy photos.
Mike Freeman of CBS Sports thinks the NFL is about to come down hard on DUI offenses by its players. He notes the old NFL program of giving a player a ride home included the option of driving both the player - and his car - home. The new program? Sometimes yes - sometimes no. Hard to leave the Lamborghini in the parking lot of Bubba's Buxom Babes, isn't it? The custom license plate with a cleaver saying, or even your name and team you play for might draw attention when dawn breaks. Then there's the threat of door-dings...
There are quite a few NFL fans who are livid the NFL has to provide free rides home to its players to keep them from driving after a few too many. I'm only mad they don't use the program, not that it's free. Fans can be hypocritical at times too. Here's a list of HUNDREDS of designated driver services across the U.S.
Don't think so? Here's a few stats from drinkinganddriving.org
"In America, on average, nearly 12,000 people die every year in DUI-related accidents. 900,000 are arrested each year for DUI/DWI, and a full third are repeat offenders. 90% of all drunk driving happens after drinking with family, friends and co-workers."
We are all incredibly human. It's our nature to make mistakes; freewill is not dependent on reason. Holding professional athletes to a higher standard isn't unreasonable. They hold not only the lives of the motoring public in their hands, but their family's futures. They have a team depending on them to fulfill the promise made when they signed contracts. Player have to know fans place them on a pedestal of sorts; kids idolizing their favorite players.
Do NFL players have a greater responsibility to live up to? Sure, it comes with the territory. But don't think for a minute we all don't have the same responsibilities to the public at large.
I live in the hinter-lands of America. The dusty, sparsely populated areas of the Southwest have fewer targets to hit for drunk drivers on the whole, but it doesn't remove a simple truth: We hold more than our own lives in our hands when it comes to driving intoxicated.
Teams like the Detroit Lions are showing a disturbing trend. Before the Lions, it was the Cincinnati Bengals. The trend I'm talking about is what would appear to be a universal lack of appreciation for being blessed with the ability to play in the NFL, and earn millions of dollars while doing it. I will always, always, shake my head when I read about players being arrested for DUI. Then an image of Tracy Lovato will flash into my mind. The daughter of a friend of mine, she died two years ago when a drunk driver plowed into her Jeep on a dusty, sparsely traffic-ed road here in New Mexico. One question invariably comes to mind each time - Why?