I learned a long time ago that some things just aren’t in my control. As much as I’d like some things to be, they aren’t. Take my son’s mother for example. We don’t see “eye-to-eye” to put it lightly. She does things the way she wants, when she wants and that’s just it. When we first got divorced, I’d get so mad when she didn’t call me back after I’d call to speak to my son or when she didn’t send pictures from a fun outing. Needless to say, it was getting to me. I called my father, who’s been divorced from my mother for over 20 years, and asked for some advice on dealing with my ex-wife. (To any baby daddies or potential baby daddies, I got news for you. It doesn’t stop after eighteen years. The child support will but YOU WILL ALWAYS HAVE TO TALK TO YOUR BABY MAMA. ALWAYS. I’m 26 years old. My brother is 23 years old. My parents STILL HAVE TO COMMUNICATE as it regards to us. Sorry, but only death, meaning yours because women live longer, is going to get rid of that headache, so play nice. It makes life way easier.) My father gave me the best piece of advice ever. “Son you can’t expect people to act the way you think they should act. Even if you’re right, people are individuals that will always make the choices THEY WANT to make. Even if those choices are wrong.” I tell you that story to tell you that I can’t make my baby mother “do the right thing” anymore than Roger Goodell and the NFL can stop a player from drinking and driving.
In the wake of back-to-back deaths in the NFL these past two weeks, a lot of people are looking to the NFL to fix or stop these acts from happening again and that’s just silly. Drinking and driving is a huge societal problem that affects the entire country not just the “shield”. The NFL only magnifies regular problems we all hear about once a week. Now, I’m not a big “protect the NFL” guy but sometimes I think people are being a little to hard on them. It’s kind of hard to feel sorry for a multi-billion dollar company. With all the unpopular rule changes, the money grabbing SUPER UNSAFE Thursday night games and the complete miss handling of the Saints “bounty gate”, you’re not going to find too many people on the side of Goodell and the NFL these days. But when it comes to this issue, I think the NFL has went above and beyond the call of duty.
According to MADD (Moms Against Drunk Driving), someone is killed every 53 minutes in a drunk driving crash. That’s not only a crazy stat, it’s a scary one. I don’t drink, save for my birthday and New Year’s Eve, so I don’t get “that feeling” too often, but I can’t believe any reasonable adult would think driving like THAT is a good idea. It’s just not. It’s one of those rare things in life that’s just cut and dry. Drinking alcohol and operating a vehicle is wrong. There is NO WAY TO MAKE IT SEEM RIGHT BECAUSE IT JUST ISN’T. PERIOD. (On a personal note, I’ve lost a few friends to drunk drivers and it’s always the same. My friend dies and the driver is always perfectly fine. I think if you got a mandatory year in jail for a DUI, that stat I gave you earlier would be a lot lower. And I’m talking no trial, no jury, don’t pass go and collect $200 because you’re going right now jail. Think about it. If you knew that when you were pulled over you could be given a breathalyzer, fail it, be put into the back of a police car and taken DIRECTLY TO PRISON, you’d have to be one stupid son of a you-know-what to even THINK about drinking and driving much less do it.) YET AND STILL, people do it everyday and it’s never going to stop. By all accounts and reports, every NFL team has what’s known as a “safe-ride” program. Basically, any NFL player can call a number and get a ride anytime, anywhere and ALL AT THE TEAM’S EXPENSE. All NFL players know about this program. It’s talked about at team meetings and there are postings about this program all through the team’s facilities. A ride, no questions asked, anytime, anywhere, free of charge? Are you kidding me? If something like that were at every job in this country, we’d all be a lot drunker. This seems like a fool proof system except for one element: the human one.
|Jerry Brown (above) killed by pro and collegiate teammate Josh Brent.|
When Josh Brent got into his car with his friend and teammate Jerry Brown last weekend, he chose not to call for a ride and he chose to drive his car. Brent is the classic case of someone “just not getting it.” He already had a DUI in 2009 from his college days in Illinois. If a prior conviction of a DUI doesn’t stop a guy from doing it again, nothing will. Hell, NFL players don’t even learn from death caused by DUI’s. Brown’s death happened AFTER Donté Stallworth was drunk and killed a man in Miami in 2009. That one happened AFTER Leonard Little was drunk and killed a woman in 1998. And why would both of these cases make players stop or think twice when A) both of those men didn’t do ANY REAL JAIL TIME [Stallworth only serve 24 days of a 30 day sentence and Little just received probation. (Little was caught again in 2004 and he STILL DIDN’T go to jail. I know, crazy as hell right.)] after killing someone and B) both men continued they’re playing careers. So when KILLING someone when you’re driving drunk not only doesn’t guarantee you jail time or at the very least get you fired, (99.9% of the jobs in this country you’d be fired, not suspended for a year but fired. Fired as in, clean out your desk, turn in your key, let Jim from security walk you out and don’t come back ever fired.) why wouldn’t a player take THAT risk. Because there is NO RISK! No risk from the NFL or from the law otherwise. The NFL will ALWAYS give players, talent-level withstanding of course, a second chance for almost anything outside of first-degree murder.
|Stallworth (above) & Little kept playing AFTER deadly DUIs.|
The NFL has done far more than most jobs would do. They provide a great program to help its employees save themselves from themselves and depending on how good you are, they’ll give you a second chance, that none of us would ever be afforded by our employer by the way, if you screw up and choose not to use said program. DUIs are not an NFL problem. DUIs are a young, rich and I think I’m invincible NFL PLAYER problem. I guess the only thing the NFL could do more is make their punishment for a DUI conviction of any kind a mandatory one year suspension, not a season, but a full calendar year suspension. And I know what you’re thinking, “But Paris, that’s where they’re responsibility lies. Making the punishment harder to make the players think twice.” If society doesn’t punish these guys harder who is Roger Goodell and the NFL to go all “holier than thou”. Players would riot if the NFL were seen as trying to “play God” even more than some players already think they do. Again, this is all about a personal choice and that’s something the NFL WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO CONTROL. A personal choice to go out. A personal choice to drink. A personal choice to drive. A personal choice not to call someone for a ride. Personal choice. If we have learned anything, when you leave people with choices, more often than not, people will always, sometimes, make the wrong ones.
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