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NFL players who commit an alcohol-related driving offense may soon face a suspension from the league, said a source at Fox Sports.
The league office wants to increase penalties in hopes that it will deter players from getting behind the wheel after a night of drinking. The National Football League Players Association already offers transportation services to any player that needs a ride after a night of drinking, and many teams offer their own type of safe-ride program, but drinking and driving is still a significant problem throughout the league. 10 players have already been booked on alcohol-related driving offenses this year, while 17 players were booked on similar charges in 2012. The most notable arrest was that of Josh Brent, who now faces intoxicated manslaughter charges after he crashed his car while drunk, killing teammate Jerry Brown.
Adolpho Birch, head of the NFL’s drug testing policy, said the league would welcome a new program with the Players Association.
“We would entertain any program collaboration, initiative or partnership that looks like it was feasibly calculated to reduce the number of incidents involving players, club employees and league employee who drive while impaired,” said Birch. “That’s a given.”
The league wants to implement a mandatory suspension for anyone who commits an alcohol-related driving offense, and many players are in favor of tougher penalties. A source for the Players Association said “players have been open to discussion and already discussed increasing discipline on DUIs.”
Although players might face more discipline in the wake of an alcohol-related driving incident, both the league and the Players Association want to develop a better program to educate players so they decide not to drink and drive for reasons other than a possible suspension.
“From our end, we look at three or four different areas where we provide education, awareness and resources. We also look at deterrents,” Birch said. “We need all to be as effective as they can to reduce the incidents as much as possible.
First Things First
Before the league and the NFLPA sit down to hammer out a new clause in the personal conduct policy, they first want to address another issue that has made major noise across other sports – the use of performance enhancing drugs, specifically Human Growth Hormone.
The league currently tests for some PEDs, and there have been over 50 suspensions related to PED use since 2010, but the league currently does not test for HGH. Many athletes and league officials believe HGH use is rampant in the NFL, but nobody has an exact number since players aren’t tested for its presence.
The league and the NFLPA are currently working towards a testing program for HGH, and the sides are expected to reach an agreement in the near future. Once the dust settles, both groups will undertake the task of curbing drunken driving related incidents.
Related sources: Fox Sports, CBS Sports