As the NFL tries to deal with an unacceptable spike in DUI arrests, a group that has raised awareness of the problem in recent decades will help the league get the message across to the new crop of pro football players.
Per Alex Marvez of FOXSports.com, Mothers Against Drunk Driving will have a “presence” at the upcoming rookie symposium, which will take place in Canton later this month.
The move comes as both the league and the NFLPA try to reduce the number of alcohol-related incidents, three of which happened in the past two weekends.
NFL executive Adolpho Birch told Marvez and co-host Jim Miller of SiriusXM NFL Radio that the league has been trying to increase the discipline for drunk driving. “We’re really trying to step up that level of [player] discipline,” Birch said, while also confirming PFT’s report that the union has been resisting change. “We think that suspension is important to send the right deterrent effect.”
NFLPA spokesman George Atallah, also appearing on SiriusXM NFL Radio, said that the issue is “not a matter of [being] willing or unwilling to change,” but a function of the collective bargaining process. As Albert Breer of NFL Network pointed out on Tuesday, the HGH negotiations have delayed and complicated the finalization of new rules for the substance-abuse policy and the steroids policy.
“We’ve got the agreement we have from 2010 that we worked with the league to amend before the [player] lockout was enacted [in 2011],” Atallah said. ”We’re sticking to that right now. They know the channels they need to take if they want something changed.”
Still, whatever the two sides currently are doing isn’t working. And it will require an increase in deterrence plus strong efforts to assist players who may be intoxicated to get home, no questions asked.
The “Safe Rides” program, which as Marvez explains it costs $85 per hour, should be free — no matter how much the player using the service earns. The fact that it costs nothing creates an even greater incentive to use it (after all, plenty of people with plenty of money are nevertheless tighter than steel shoelaces), and the available of a no-cost-no-questions-asked service makes it even less excusable if the player chooses to instead drive home.
Something needs to change dramatically before there’s another Mario Reyes incident. As his family would say, something should have changed dramatically before there was a Mario Reyes incident. With Jaguars receiver Justin Blackmon reportedly blowing a 0.24-percent BAC and Giants offensive lineman David Diehl reportedly more recently producing a 0.18, too many players are putting too many members of the public in too much danger, and the league and the union aren’t doing too much to change it.