National NFL columnist Bob Glauber today writes in Newsday on the need for the NFL Players Association to agree to tougher drunk-driving discipline that has been repeatedly proposed to the union by the NFL.
Commenting on the Tuesday morning arrest of New York Jets wide receiver Braylon Edwards for driving while intoxicated (DWI), Glauber wrote: “There’s a good chance [the Jets] would have taken more severe measures, including deactivating Edwards for Sunday’s game. But they couldn’t do anything more than keep him out of the starting lineup because the league’s collective bargaining agreement prohibits the suspension or deactivation of a player charged with his first DWI or DUI. It’s time that rule is changed, so that teams have tougher disciplinary options for players who put themselves in the kind of situation Edwards did Tuesday.”
“What’s also disturbing,” Glauber continues, “is that the league has little power to send a strong message that such behavior is unacceptable. According to people familiar with the situation, the NFL repeatedly has pressed the NFLPA to increase the level of discipline for first-time DUIs [currently a maximum $50,000 fine] to a suspension of up to four games. Each time, the union rejected the idea.”
Said union spokesman George Atallah: “What we’ve said is that if there are any changes made to either the personal-conduct policy or the substance-abuse policy is that it has to be done through collective bargaining.”
But Glauber correctly notes that “the NFL and the union routinely have updated policies on substance abuse and personal conduct. It’s time to do so again.” For example, the maximum fine for a first-time DUI (absent mitigating circumstances) was increased several years ago from $20,000 to $50,000. The NFL the past few years has proposed increasing that level of discipline to a multi-game suspension, but the union has rejected it every time.