Juxtapose it with this. What if Braylon Edwards had popped positive for steroid? Think about it for a minute. Both activities are illegal, but let's be real, when was the last time someone was arrested for using steroids. I guarantee you that there would be more press about that. He would be brutalized in the press, just like Brian Cushing was when he tested positive, who has been sitting at the house the last two weeks and will be for two more. Seriously, why don't people take drunk driving more seriously? Is it because "everybody has done it once"? Does that make it okay?
Using steroids is cheating, but padding stats with steroids only hurts records and the one player doing it. Drunk driving is a threat to us all. I have lost two people I care about to drunk drivers. My father's alcoholism contributed to his death at 47. It is a major problem still among teenagers. Binge drinking is still prevalent everywhere. Yet, most people just care about when Braylon takes the field.
As a teacher, I made the decicion not to drink. If I get a DUI/DWI, I will be out of a job. Why am I held to higher standard than an NFL player who is watched my millions? It is because I'm a role model whether I like it or not. Some teenagers spend more time with their teachers than they do with their parents, and let's face it, many more spend a lot more time with a television or a computer. As such, you have to make sacrifices. How would you Jets fans feel if Brayon had injured or God forbid killed one or all of the four other passengers in the car, including teammates tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson and defensive end Vernon Gholston. This isn't my first foray into this topic. In May 2009, I posted the following article, "Who is the real bad guy?"
Every 15 minutes, someone dies in an alcohol-related car crash. Think about that. That means that during the time that the Jets/Dolphins game is on the air tonight, roughly three hours, 12 people will lose their lives. While we watch that game, 12 people will be taking their last breath. 12 people will never see any of their child's firsts. 12 people won't get an opportunity to see their children grow up. 12 people won't get to graduate from high school. 12 people won't get to walk their daughters down the aisle. 12 families will lose a mother, a father, a sister, a brother, an aunt, an uncle, a grandparent. 12 schools will lose young people who could have found the cure for cancer, brought about peace, or discover the next first. 12 sets principals, teachers, and counselors will have to explain to young people why that desk beside, behind, or in front of them is empty. But, that's okay, because "everybody does it," right?
I was equally devasted this morning when I logged on the the net to see that Bruce Smith, the leader of that defence and NFL Hall of Famer, arrested for drunk driving. This was not his first, not his second, but his third DUI arrest. I was stunned. Although no convictions, three DUI arrests. He's not the first look at this list: Vincent Jackson, Joba Chamberlain, Charles Barkley, Carmelo Anthony, Lawyer Milloy, Zach Randolf, Donte Stallworth, Jerremy Stevens, Jim Leyritz, Tony LaRussa, Koren Robinson, Chris Henry, Warren Moon, Brian Bosworth, Deltha O'Neal, Javon Kerse, Cedric Benson, Ken Stabler, Biren Ealy, Kolomona Kapanui, Leon Hall, Dominic Rhodes, Jared Allen, etc. All of these arrests have happened within the past 3 years. All they had to do was call a cab, hire a limo, or give the keys to a sober friend! Many of these guys go around in posses, tell Jo-Jo he can't drink because he's driving tonight.
Apparently, because it is legal to purchase alcohol in the U.S. if you are over 21, this is not a big deal to the media. It should be. Two of these men are looking at serious jail time for killing people, Donte Stallworth and Jim Leyritz, and Leonard Little was convicted in 1998 for killing a woman.
Last week, I listened to literally hours of pundits berating Manny Ramirez for his hcg prescription, Roger Clemens for his "alleged" steriod use, and before that, Alex Rodriguez, before him, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Raphael Palmiero, etc. HOURS. Hour after hour of coverage about Manny and Alex. Minutes of coverage about Donte Stallworth. Why? Is drunk driving not a "sexy" enough story? Is it played out? Obviously not.
I am not slapping Manny on the wrist; he deserves whatever happens to him. I have no sympathy as far as that is concerned. However, why are these "cheaters" worse than the men I've listed? Did Manny and the other break the law? Yes, if they took steroids, they did break the law. Should they be punished? Yes, if it can be proven that they broke the law, then they should be punished. But, why are these men pariahs, and the others are not.
Both are crimes. Yet, the media will analyze every angle of the Manny Ramirez story, but there was hardly any information on Donte Stallworth's "accidentally" killing Mario Reyes with his Bentley. The largest story involving athletes and drunk driving was the tragic death of Nick Adenhart and two of his friends last month. The man driving the van that killed Adenhart was drunk (that driver was a multiple DUI offender). It, too, quickly faded to the back page once there was more A-Rod and Manny fodder.
I have to roll my eyes every time I hear these self-righteous media types talk about how steroids influences the kids, how the kids are going to follow, how these role models are ruining kids...I have been an educator for a little over ten years. I have only heard rumors (no proof) about steriods among teenagers around. I have heard of several incidents of suicides related to steroid use over a period of years. In a 2006 poll, only 2.7% of the 12th grades polled had used or experimented with steroids. 31.5% of teenagers had experimented with alcohol. Alcohol abuse, however, is more prevalent among teenagers. Take the state of Texas for example. This year, Texas was considering ending steroid testing because only 11 out of 29,000 students in two years tested positive. Eleven out of 29,000. By comparison in 2007 alone, Texas had 1,292 alcohol related fatalities, 202 were teenagers.
Alcohol is the leading cause of death among teenagers. I have not seen the media pundits wringing their hands about that. I have not heard them demand apologies from these men. I have not seen this prevent some of these players from going into the Hall of Fame. Why? Because it did not happen on the fields or courts? So let me get this straight. Manny, Roger, and Barry are worse than these guys who not only put themselves in danger, but they put us all in danger. Thankfully, most of these guys were picked up before they killed someone. The only thing Manny and Alex hurt was themselves and statistics. I don't think any fans have died because of padded statistics.
As an NFL fan, I believe the NFL should have as strict a policy on DWI as they do steroids. I also believe that states need to also have stiffer penalties on DUI/DWI charges. The rules also should also apply to the people in the stands and watching at home. Just because they sell it, doesn't mean you have to buy it. If you "have" to drink, give up the keys, call a cab, or call a friend. People still don't take this as seriously as they should. Drunk drivers put all of our lives at risk. A drunk person behind the wheel of a car is a loaded gun without a safety. It may not always go off, but when it does the results can be tragic.