Linebacker's Death Puts Spotlight on NFL Drug, Alcohol Problem
With the arrest of Dallas Cowboys linebacker Josh Brent in connection with the drunk-driving accident that resulted to the death of teammate Jerry Brown, the spotlight has been focused once again on the rampant drugs and alcohol use among NFL players.
According to data culled by USA Today, NFL players have been arrested at least 624 times on various charges since January 2000, including 42 times this year.
Of those arrests, 177 or 28 percent involved driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The league has implemented several programs to stop the menace but the problem still exists in the NFL.
Among the steps taken by the NFL to curb the problem include discipline, education and even chauffeur services available to players through the players union.
"The program is there and I don't know why every player in the league wouldn't use it," Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Shaun Smith said. "I've used it before when I've been out, and I'm sure I'll use it again. Personally, I'm not going to put myself or anyone else at risk by driving drunk. You just wish everyone felt that way."
However, the problem remains because many of the young players love to drive fancy as much as they love to party.
"We've all done it driven intoxicated," San Diego Chargers linebacker Takeo Spikes admitted. "But it's to a point now where maybe you were ignorant and didn't know any better or felt you were invincible. We've had enough of death to show us this is what you do not do."
"I've been in those circumstances where I drove where I was under the influence," Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Larry Foote said. "We have to get a hold of the alcohol. Guys won't want to hear that. But that's the problem. Too much alcohol, getting drunk, you're out of control"
Brown was the third person killed by an NFL player due to suspected DUIT since 1998 while Brent's arrest marked the 18th time that an NFL player has been arrested while driving under the influence, seven more compared to 2011.
Brett Bivans, a senior vice president at the International Center for Alcohol Policies, said strict enforcement is needed to solve the problem.
Bivans recommends the placing of ignition interlock devices on a car's dashboard to measure blood-alcohol concentration from the driver's breath. If it measures too much, the car won't start.
"We are considering that," Cowboys consultant Calvin Hill said.
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