Pathetic that it even had to be issued, that is.
The concern and need for damage control is glaring after three players over just the last two weeks have decided that calling a cab is far too difficult. First it was Nick Fairley, adding a DUI to his drug charge a few months ago, followed by Justin Blackmon, who tacked on a few more red flags to his name that was already colored in blood red by driving with three times the legal limit of alcohol in his blood stream.
Ahh, but those guys are known idiots, we said. One drunk driving incident is far too many, but the history of Fairley and Blackmon indicated that we should expect and brace for this kind of behavior, dammit. They’re just wild hooligans who then went to plant fecal matter in paper bags on doorsteps as soon as they were released from jail.
Then how do we explain David Diehl? He’s the offensive lineman who had been and will surely continue to be a member of the Giants who’s glowing with character. But that radiant glow didn’t protect him while he was slamming into parked cars in Queens this past Sunday night.
Soon the gates of coach-supervised security will swing open with offseason training activities ending for all teams by next week, and over 2,500 players will be released into the wild. Since we’re conditioned to react strongly to recent events and add them together to create an epidemic, we can only assume that there isn’t a shred of common sense left among those players.
Roger Goodell is certainly worried about the six weeks of freedom between the end of mini camps and the start of full training camp in late July. That’s why daddy left this note for his many, many little children.
Via Mike Freeman:
“There have been several negative law enforcement incidents in recent months involving both players and non-player employees. These incidents primarily have involved alcohol or drug-related offenses, specifically driving while impaired. Clearly, operating a vehicle under the influence of any substance poses a significant risk of injury to the driver and others. These risks are underscored by well-known tragedies within the NFL family.
“The Personal Conduct Policy makes clear that we must all conduct ourselves in a manner that is “responsible, that promotes the values upon which the league is based, and is lawful.” Every negative incident undermines the respect we have earned from our fans, erodes the confidence of our business partners and threatens the continued success of the league.
“As your club concludes its mini-camp, it is essential that you take time to reinforce this message with your staff and players. In particular, the following points are suggested:
Be responsible. If you choose to go out for drinks, make arrangements for a designated driver or “safe ride” service. Remember that law enforcement is aggressively protecting the public from the dangers of impaired driving. DON’T TAKE CHANCES.
Know the environment. Avoid trouble spots and places that don’t provide adequate security. Don’t try to provide your own “security” by carrying a weapon.
Use available resources. A variety of resources are available to help you. Contact your Director of Player Engagement, Security Director, the NFLPA at (800) xxx-xxxx, or the NFL Security Department at (800) xxx-xxxx for assistance.”
There’s nothing wrong with Goodell sending this memo to all 32 teams today. He had to, even if its purpose was just to battle the public perception that the NFL is drifting downwards to become a league filled with self-entitled, incompetent juveniles incapable of making a simple common sense decision.
The letter was a required step in the public relations manual, but it’s sad that there’s now shards of glass around that emergency switch. Without repeating too much of my angry rant from earlier this week, mature, rich athletes should be able to take the same precautions and avoid the same idiocy that most of us navigate around easily and nightly.
The steps are simple, and they’re so mundane that it’s insulting to even write them here. Have a designated driver, or if everyone in your entourage would like to repeatedly crush jagerbombs until the sun rises because that’s what bros do, brah, then call a cab. If for whatever reason that’s not possible, stay in a hotel or at a friend’s place. Failing all else, if you went to the Terrell Owens school of NFL budgeting and are stuck with four baby mammas who syphon money, walk home. Walk with pride, even if your final destination is miles away. I did that once, and the experience is quite sobering…literally.
What’s most disappointing about the events of the past two weeks is that they’ve led to the perception of an epidemic that doesn’t exist. Again, to be abundantly clear, there’s no justifiable excuse for driving under the influence of alcohol. But the human mind is conditioned to instinctively connect similar negative events over a short period of time that are contained within a specific group of people, and assume there’s an outbreak in said group.
Those instincts couldn’t be further from the truth.
On average in the United States each year nearly 12,000 people die in DUI-related accidents, according to drinkinganddriving.org. America is kind of a big place, with an estimated 210 million licensed drivers, a number that dwarfs the NFL’s population, even in the height of the offseason when rosters are much larger.
But there’s still some validity to be gleaned from the comparison on a per capita basis. When SB Nation’s Jon Bois did the gleaning and dug into the numbers for the average American in 2010 and compared them to the drunk driving stats for three of the four major North American sports leagues in 2011, he came up with this…
See, NFL players are real people after all, and they’re not that much different than you and I. In fact, they’re a little bit better.