After a rash of recent DUI arrests, with three players popped in nine days for driving drunk, it’s obvious that whatever the NFL is doing to prevent players from possibly killing paying customers isn’t working.
Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News agrees that more needs to be done. “A guy over the legal limit for alcohol behind the wheel of a car, in fact, is as dangerous as a football player like Plaxico Burress going into a crowded club and having a couple of drinks with a loaded unlicensed handgun in his pants,” Lupica contends.
He’s right. And, actually, a small piece of metal whizzing around a bar may be less dangerous than a 2,000-pound chunk of it flying down the street.
Per a source with knowledge of the NFL’s thinking, the league has wanted to increase the penalties for several years. The league contends, we’re told, that the union has resisted.
In fairness to the NFLPA, however, the league could get higher DUI penalties if the league was willing to make the kind of concession necessary to get the union to agree.
If, for example, the NFL were willing to export the appeals process for violations of the substance-abuse policy to a neutral arbitrator, the players may be willing to allow that arbitrator to uphold or reject the stiffer proposed punishments for players who drive drunk.
Thus, while the NFLPA understandably is protecting the rights of men who technically are on their own time and who face consequences via the criminal justice system, both sides need to come together and look at the bigger picture.
Ultimately, this is an entertainment business. And the men providing the entertainment shouldn’t randomly be endangering the lives of the folks they’re trying to entertain, either by driving drunk or by throwing swords into the stands.