If you’re reading this, you probably know that Michael Turner, running back for the Atlanta Falcons, was arrested at 4 am on Tuesday after the Falcons’ home opener win. And if you’re anything like me, you’re thinking, “Seriously? What is it with these athletes?” This is not the first, and definitely won’t be the last, time we’ve heard about a professional athlete drinking and driving. Or getting busted for drugs. Or guns. You get the picture. We can understand these millionaire studs are human; they are bound to make mistakes. But do their mistakes have to be such stupid ones?
One might ask what would possess a professional athlete to get behind the wheel after he’s been drinking? Could it be that there is just no other way home? What if he’s in a city that doesn’t have a great public transit system? Well, there used to be a program for NFL players called “Safe Rides.” To utilize this benefit, a player only had to call the service and give his location, and a driver would pick him up. This program was taken over by the NFLPA in 2009 because of suspicion that the league was using it to spy on players (which brings up another point – who cares? The league doesn’t even suspend the players when they’re arrested for DUI, so what are they going to do when they find out the players are drinking? Tell their moms? Please.). There were complaints about the new system, however, regarding slow response time and the service not being available in all cities. Additionally, the fee for the free rides went up to $85. Yes, $85. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that this is a rip-off, because a player (or anyone) can get a cab in almost any city for much less. Doesn’t make much sense to me, but I digress.
So maybe public transportation such as a train or bus isn’t an option. Also, “Safe Rides” is no longer operational. What about a cab? Michael Turner signed a 6 year, 34.5 million dollar deal in 2008. Don’t tell me he can’t afford a cab. Okay, maybe he didn’t think he was too inebriated to get behind the wheel. After all, he only blew a 0.109, not too far over the legal limit. But Michael, tell me this. If you’ve been drinking, and you’re driving home at 4 am, when hardly anyone else is on the road, why would you be going 97 mph in a 65 mph zone?!? Idiot! You’re asking for it, in my opinion. Oh, and let’s not forget that he was reportedly on his way home from a strip club called “Magic City.” Classy.
Now, in his defense, Turner did own up to it and apologize, rather than just ignore the situation and the media like some players. Justin Blackmon also apologized after his arrest, but does that make it any better? Blackmon, a first-round pick for the Jacksonville Jaguars, was arrested earlier this summer for DUI – his second offense. His blood alcohol level was reportedly 3 times the legal limit. Again, his second DUI offense. Guess you don’t really learn when you only get a slap on the wrist.
Nick Fairley, another first-round pick, is a defensive tackle for the Detroit Lions who was arrested twice in two months earlier this year. First, he was arrested on a misdemeanor marijuana charge. Then, after reportedly going 100 mph past a cop in a vehicle with no proof of insurance and an open container inside, he was arrested for DUI, among other citations. Oh, and he attempted to elude the police. Genius.
The one that really takes the cake for me is Donte Stallworth. In 2005, he struck and killed a pedestrian with his car while both speeding and driving under the influence. He paid a fine, did some community service, and was released from jail after 24 days. Let me repeat: twenty-four days for killing a man. Apparently there was some kind of loop hole, but still. He was suspended for one whole season of NFL play. What do you think would happen to you or me if we committed a crime like that?
But that’s not really the point here, as we could spend a lot of time discussing that last question. My point is this: I am continuously baffled by the stupid decisions these athletes make. You have the financial means to call a cab. You are popular enough that you can call a friend, or even an acquaintance to give you a ride home. Plenty of folks would oblige, even at 4 in the morning. You have so many young folks admiring you and watching what you do. Lastly, but certainly not least, you are endangering people’s lives. If you want to risk your own, that’s fine. Just leave the rest of us out of it when you decide to act like an idiot.