First, let’s figure out what these people have in common:
- Dallas Cowboys nose tackle Jay Ratliff
- Tennessee Titans tight end Brandon Barden
- Free agent wide receiver Titus Young
- Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jerome Simpson
- Arizona Cardinals tight end D.C. Jefferson
- San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith
- San Francisco 49ers cornerback Eric Wright
- New England Patriots cornerback Alfonzo Dennard
- Buffalo Bills fullback Evan Rodriguez
- New Orleans Saints wide receiver Joe Morgan
- Winnipeg Blue Bombers offensive lineman Quentin Saulsberry
- Cleveland Browns defensive lineman Armonty Bryant
- St Louis Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson
- San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman Al Netter
- Chicago Bears defensive lineman Jeremiah Ratliff
If you’re thinking superior agility, quick reflexes, strength and athletic prowess, you would be correct. But something else is relevant here: the gentlemen named above were also arrested in 2013 on suspicion of DUI.
The compilers of the NFL Arrests Database, the San Diego Union-Tribune, note that the list might not even be complete, as their information depends on media coverage. But the sheer size of the list (and there have been more arrests this year) points up a problem the NFL are trying to deal with: the number of its star employees who drink and drive. That number is severely out of proportion, and out of control.
At present, a player responsible for a DUI is fined two game checks, i.e. plays two games for free. The word from Pro Football Talk is that the league and the player’s union, the NFLPA, are contemplating a one-game suspension as well as a one-game fine.
The logic is that players would be less inclined to drink and drive if they knew they would be suspended, and thus hurt their team as well as their finances. Perhaps this altered punitive approach will work. But if the league really wants to prevent its members from driving while drunk, they should consider mandatory ignition interlocks for offenders, as state governments are doing in increasing numbers. Because a football player is just as dangerous as anyone else when drunk and behind the wheel.