Cowboys consider requiring players to use breath-testing devices on their cars

As the Cowboys process the events of Saturday morning, which resulted in the death of linebacker Jerry Brown and the arrest of nose tackle Josh Brent on charges of intoxication manslaughter, the organization is looking for ways to avoid similar tragedies in the future.

According to Jarrett Bell of USA Today, the team is considering the use of SafeKey, a device that can prevent player vehicles from starting if the driver cannot produce alcohol-free breath.

Obviously, we do whatever we can do,” said Calvin Hill, a former Cowboys running back who now serves as a consultant regarding the team’s off-field support programs.  “I don’t know what more we can do.  We’re always examining and going over things.”

Such devices commonly are used for persons who have been convicted of drunk driving.  In the case of persons who have no prior history of such offenses, it could be difficult for the Cowboys to implement this program, especially without approval of the NFLPA.

Per Bell, the NFLPA did not immediately respond to a request for comment from USA Today.

Though the use of the device would help deter drunk driving among NFL players, there’s a delicate balance that needs to be maintained between individual liberties and deterrence of misconduct.  For the hundreds of players who behave responsibly, such measures could fairly be characterized as overreaching.

That said, the NFLPA could choose to agree to allow the device to be used by every player.  To secure such an arrangement, however, the NFL would be required to make major concessions to the players.  At this point, it seems highly unlikely that the device ever would be used — except by a players who have a history of impaired driving.

48 responses to “Cowboys consider requiring players to use breath-testing devices on their cars

  1. It’s sad, as a society, that grown men can’t make logical and ethical decisions to protect themselves and others when it comes to drunk driving. These are a nice step but if you know you are getting hammered beforehand, why not designate a DD or get a cab both ways? I hope everyone can learn a lesson from this.

  2. What about a service that the players could call and get picked up while another person drives their car home? Oh wait…

  3. I don’t understand why ALL vehicles don’t require you to pass a breathalyzer in order to drive it. This is a problem that faces athletes, and normal people as well. Athletes, specifically have no excuse to get behind the wheel while intoxicated. With all the gadgets and bells and whistles on vehicles nowadays, why not make this a requirement? What harm would it do?

  4. The alternative is for the league to just suspend players for a full 16 games upon a DUI conviction. That will work better than the car gadgets and will punish just the guilty and not the innocent as well.

    The league suspends players who have had three substance abuse infractions for this long and that activity, although also illegal, isn’t as likely to kill somebody.

  5. Curious about the DUI conviction rates for an NFL vs. any other employer. People driving while intoxicated is a society-wide problem, it’s not just NFL players who make this mistake.

    Putting these interlock type devices on players cars seems like an extreme measure which punishes the vast majority of Cowboys players who have been able to get along with out any DUI convictions.

    I’m no attorney, but I also wonder if this is a violation of the player’s rights defending them from an illegal search. Can the Cowboys do this b/c they’re a private company/employer?

  6. Good luck with the CBA. Fools make enough to take a Limo but won’t. Fools make enough to hire security but won’t. I hoped Darrent Williams dying in Champs arms would be enough but it wasn’t. Huge rookie contract for Maurice Clarrett wasn’t enough although he didn’t kill…he was ready to though. SMH
    Give me 1% of these salaries and I’ll build a community with houses for the people that MIGHT die with even less money. All about the dough bro. Screwed in Houston, recited by a chalky.

  7. Seems like this is a bit too much. Again these are grown ass men that should know (1) that you should never drink and drive (2) u have free rides provided by the NFL jus for this. (3) not every NFL player is an inconsiderate moron with no regard for what will happen when u you drive drunk. I hope this serves as a wake up call to everyone. Even though it shouldnt take situations like this for everyone to realize driving drunk isnt the smartest thing!

  8. I have an idea, be responsible for your own actions.

    If you drink and drive, be prepared to suffer the consequences of your poor decision. Your respective teams, as well as the league, provide ways to protect yourself if you decide you want to go out and get blasted. Use them, don’t be stupid. Josh Brent didn’t and now his friend and teammate is dead

    Mandating all players on a team be required to have some sort of ‘anti-drunk’ device in their vehicles is reactionary crap. I am truly sorry that a young man has lost his life. I feel horrible for his family and his friends. This tragedy, however, should not give a team carte blanche to subject their employees to an unwarranted intrusion into their personal lives.

    I can’t imagine anyone on the union side of things standing for this. If I were a player, my reaction to this tactic would be a great big EFF you.

  9. So this could fairly be characterized as overreaching, but requiring players to turn in guns (an actual right, unlike driving) isn’t?

  10. What a dumb, dumb thing to consider even in private.

    Even NFL man-children (aka players) are legal adults. Even if your heart is in the right place, as an employer it isn’t your place to police the off-hours behavior of your employees. That is not a slope any of use should ever allow.

    You can cajole, suggest, affirm, or browbeat your adult employees to behave on their own time. But you cannot step over that line, that isn’t your place or role.

  11. I got a dwi when I was 22. I was barely over the legal limit. It is now 13 years later. While I have not avoided alcohol. I have never driven drunk since. After going through the legal process ONE drink makes you drunk. This was not his first ‘rodeo’. This is not an NFL problem. It is probably percentage wise happening less in the NFL. But as Bob Costas would want you to know. It is the Alcohol or maybe even the Person who sold the Alcohol…. Not the Person that made the decision-

  12. How about requiring them to be citizens who don’t break the law, and the penalty of being found Guilty of any Felony is the immediate forfeiture of your entire contract, plus the forfeiture of the privelege of being employed in the National Football League.
    (full disclosure: I’m over 50 years old, and never been arrested, nor convicted of anything. It’s not THAT difficult to go through life that way, really.)

  13. What’s next – tell the they can’t drink? Since when do employers have a right to do something like that? When your employer becomes the police as well, you’re really living in a police state. Or is it just the NFL that’s different? Can WalMart do this too?

  14. You can’t prevent someone from being stupid, especially when that someone is rich enough to have options. All a player would have to do to circumvent the system is (a) rent a car or (b) borrow a friend’s car or (c) buy a car and put it under someone else’s name or (d)…

    There’s no way to legislate away the problem of blind stupidity in young, rich men who have spent most of their lives being bulletproof to criticism or consequences as a result of their talent. You can educate them, you can provide free rides home, you can do whatever you want. At some point, one of them is going to decide the rules don’t apply to him, because for most of his life, the rules haven’t applied to him.

    Josh Brent probably isn’t a bad person. He was just out having fun with a friend. Now he’s destroyed his life, and ended his friend’s. And a whole league of guys is saying something to the effect of, “How horrible, but that’ll never be me. I’m too smart.”

  15. Oh.
    So NOW they are going to do it?
    It’s like closing the barn door after the horse has already escaped.
    Would be nice to get a follow up to see how effective this is.

  16. Nfl owners have the right to protect their interests. And in all honesty I don’t see a problem with it. It’s not just your life you put at risk when you drive drunk it’s us sane people who know better who are often a victim…….

  17. People have to have a choice. Without a choice there is no right or wrong. We might as well be robots. We already drug test people needlessly just so they can obtain a job. Do we really need to make people blow to drive as a requirement of employment? What happened was tragic, and DD is a serious problem. But so are shrinking civil liberties in the name of the illusion of safety. Before safety we must first ensure we have a free society that is safe from over zealous government and ruling class regulation of individual freedoms. These types of ideas are ripe for abuse of power. What happened was tragic, but human beings are flawed. There is no amount of regulation of behavior that will change that.

  18. Everyone in the NFL is old enough to die for their country, so why does everyone keep acting like they’re kids? Maybe if they hadn’t been coddled and insulated from their mistakes since junior high, everyone would think they should take responsibility for their actions. The accident in Dallas is tragic, but it happens dozens of times each weekend across the US and barely gets any news coverage. My employer doesn’t coddle me, doesn’t offer me a ride home if I drink; they expect me to be responsible. But, they can fire me for getting a DUI since I need to drive for my job. I am sad to see someone lose their life, and for another man to potentially spend a decade or two in prison, but they had lots of choices to avoid DUI, more choices than the average fan does.

  19. All the emphasis on DUI is really because of the money the fines generate. The roads are no safer for it. But it’s a “mom and apple pie” issue that can’t be reasonably discussed because the temperance folks immediately start screaming.

    If they really were concerned about safety they’d include prescription drugs too. But the pharm lobby would destroy them if they tried. And who hasn’t had at least one close call with someone on a cell phone?

  20. The French already have a law mandating ignition interlock in all new cars. Society as a whole should follow the French example.

  21. Look these guys make millions of dollars and they understand that there actions will have huge consaquinces. Making a mandatory blower is just an act of Coummunism. We have been thought from an early age don’t drink and drive.

  22. These guys are grown men. You can’t have the government or an employer step in to “take car of everyone” because of a tragedy. Men have to be men. Grow up!

  23. I know people who have these on their cars. they just get their kids or someone sober to blow into it for them. really not a tough system to beat.

  24. Unless alcohol consumption becomes stigmatized by society, like cigarettes have in the last 20 years or so, then the problem will never go away. And no I don’t see that happening.

  25. This will fly only if Texas secedes from the USA. Otherwise, it requires a court order which will never happen without just cause.

  26. This is a great idea, but I don’t see it ever happening. IDK how much these things cost, but as someone stated above, these players have multiple cars and some will drive the “club car” in efforts to get away with it like men do when they delete my internet history his wife may look at. Though the first one is stupid, while the second one is harmless and sneaky you get the point.

    If anybody can afford it it would be Jerry Jones, who could implement a 3 car maximum and a half cost on any additional vehicles which would work. Preventative measures. These things need to be recalibrated periodically as well. I admit, I really do like the idea, but either it will be allowed, or it won’t be done.

  27. One major loophole with the breathalyzer…outside of what everyone already posted. You can ask someone or pay them to breath into the device for you who is sober, start the car and off you go.

  28. This is a terrible tragedy and I feel for all those involved. That being said…why do these pros insist on driving under the influence?! They make enough money to call a cab or hire a drive if they know they will be drinking. Makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to me!!

  29. Again the Cowboys organization feel the need to put special restriction on our players!!! These guys get paid lots of money to be responsible and keep your yourself out of trouble… here it comes…. and alot of it has to do with the way you draft and/or “choose” your players!!!JJ!!!

  30. Leonard Little, Donte Stallworth, Josh Brent, and numerous others.

    Is it an intrusion? Yes, but if players won’t use a free service that is already available to them, they shouldn’t be allowed to make a big deal about this.

  31. These athletes make lots of money. They are invited to social functions all the time. Much of the time there is free alcohol. Mix alcohol with an elite athlete who’s head is not screwed on properly and you get a potentially fatal ending.

    Congratulations on signing your new contract. I am the employer and you the employee. Drink to excess and we part ways. Not negotiable. If you don’t agree, then don’t sign this contract.

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