The NFL has had 31 of their players arrested this offseason. Of these 31 arrests, 12 have been for DUI’s.
The DUI problem is not a new one in the NFL.
It started becoming headline news in 1998 when former St. Louis Rams defensive end Leonard Little struck and killed Susan Gutweiler in St. Louis while driving drunk. He was arrested again in 2004 for driving drunk. Despite getting arrested twice for DUI’s and killing an innocent woman in the process Little was suspended a grand total of eight games by the NFL, all in the 1999 season after the first, more devastating DUI. He also somehow played his entire career with the Rams.
More recently, current New England Patriots wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth struck and killed Mario Reyes while driving drunk in Miami in March 2009. He was suspended for the entire 2009 season.
New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton is suspended for the entire 2012 season because he is the leader of a team whose defensive coordinator ran a bounty program that rewarded Saints defensive players for trying to intentionally hurt players on the opposing team’s offense. Payton has never killed anyone or turned his vehicle into a missile by driving drunk but the punishment he received by the NFL is just as bad as Stallworth’s. In the case of Little it’s worse.
The preceding three paragraphs were not meant to defend Payton but instead show how ridiculous the NFL’s current stance is on player related DUI’s. As a matter of fact they don’t have a stance. DUI’s are punished under the overall substance abuse policy the NFL has in place. The punishments for substance abuse related offenses are not exactly set in stone as you can see in the excerpt from the policy below, courtesy of Bleacher Report:
The Commissioner will review and may impose a fine, suspension, or other appropriate discipline if a player is convicted of or admits to a violation of the law…If the Commissioner finds that there were aggravating circumstances, including but not limited to felonious conduct or serious injury or death of third parties, and/or if the player has had prior drug or alcohol-related misconduct, increased discipline up to and including suspension may be imposed.
Discipline for a second or subsequent offense is likely to be a suspension, the duration of which may escalate for repeat offenses.
A lot of ifs and maybes in that excerpt when it comes to suspensions being handed out. There is also no mention of a lifetime ban in this excerpt.
Well I think it’s time for an actual DUI NFL policy in light of the rash of DUI’s this offseason and the complete lack of priority that has been put towards properly punishing these crimes in the past. For your first DUI offense, whether you’re a player or coach, you get suspended, without pay, for an entire season. If you drive under the influence a second time you receive a lifetime ban from the NFL. And finally if you kill someone while driving drunk you receive a lifetime ban, regardless if it’s your first offense. Something tells me that DUI’s would drop dramatically, if not virtually disappear, with a policy like this in place. I hope Roger Goodell reads this but he’s probably too busy thinking of new ways to punish the Saints or scold players for end zone celebrations to bother.
A Staff Writer for RotoExperts, Tamer Chamma is a two time top 50 Finalist in the WFAN Fantasy Phenom contest as well as a weekly guest on the SiriusXM "RotoExperts" morning show. Tamer is also a fill-in co-host for the show. You may contact Tamer @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @RotoExperts_TC