Newspapers were full of headlines this summer, much more than usual, of NFL players behind bars. The recent offseason was one of the worst in history in terms of the total number of players arrested or charged with crimes. Since the Super Bowl in early February, NFL players have been arrested 37 times, including 10 players who have been arrested for drunk driving and another, Aaron Hernandez, who is accused of murder.
Reports indicate that under Roger Goodell’s leadership the NFL has grown by leaps and bounds financially, with revenues of more than $10 billion a year. However, Goodell has also overseen an increase in crime among players, with an average arrest rate of more than one per week. In the seven years Goodell has served as commissioner, NFL players have been arrested 107 times for drunk driving.
Though arrests are fairly widespread across the league, some teams, including the local Minnesota Vikings, receive more than fair share. According to data gathered by the NFL, since 2000, the Cincinnati Bengals and the Minnesota Vikings lead the league with 40 arrests each out of a total of league total of 674 arrests.
The NFL says that it has taken action to combat the criminal behavior of some players and believes its efforts are working, with the exception of attempts to combat drunk driving. The NFL itself released a statement acknowledging that current attempts to deter DUIs are insufficient. Currently, the league fines those who are arrested for drunk driving, something the NFL wants changed to include mandatory suspensions.
Recently, the NFL Players Association decided to do its part to help alleviate some of the trouble and announced that it would launch an app specifically for players that it hopes will cut down on the number of drunk driving arrests. The new smartphone app will be made available next will and will allow a player to call for a car to pick them up within minutes. The app, which is designed by the tech company Uber, will be available in 20 NFL cities.
The Players Association says it will offer players a $200 credit that should help encourage use of the app. All NFL teams currently have a similar ride program that allows players to call to be picked up, however that system requires the players to explain their location. The new app will use GPS in the phone to provide the player’s precise location and will make things even easier for those players who have had a few too many.
Players should be eager to make use of the app given that the New York Times estimates that NFL players have paid more than $2.4 million in fines since 2006 and lost an additional $2.9 million in salary for cases involving drunk driving. Beyond the embarrassment and aggravation of handling a DUI arrest, the NFL players seem to have experienced some of the same financial hardships that ordinary drivers do after being arrested for driving drunk. Hopefully this financial hit will encourage the players to take advantage of the incredible service at the disposal, a system that most drivers would be thrilled to take advantage of.
Related Source: USAToday.com