2015 DRAFT GUIDE
Cowboys player death raises question of safety net

By SCHUYLER DIXON - AP Sports Writer
    2012-12-10 17:57

IRVING, Texas (AP) - San Francisco 49ers defensive end Demarcus Dobbs walked away from a one-vehicle accident on his 25th birthday last month and was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.

Less than two weeks later, with the NFL rocked by the car crash that killed Dallas Cowboys player Jerry Brown and left his teammate, Josh Brent, facing a manslaughter charge, Dobbs swears he'll find another way home whenever he does too much partying.

``I'm never going to put myself in that situation ever again,'' he said.

This is, of course, exactly what the NFL, its teams and the players' union wants to hear amid fresh questions about whether all the warnings and safety nets - because players in most of the major sports leagues arguably have more than the general public - will ever be enough to prevent accidents and deaths.

``There's a lot of pressure being in the NFL ... but it's no excuse for bad decisions,'' Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said. ``Players have a lot of options, tools at their disposal, that they need to take advantage of, but it comes down to individuals making good decisions.''

Brown's death on Saturday and the arrest of defensive tackle Josh Brent after police say he caused the fatal wreck by speeding and driving drunk put the NFL Players Association's safe ride program back in the spotlight. It was revamped three years ago after concerns that enough players weren't using it.

Union spokesman Carl Francis said the program is a strong point of emphasis, and every player's membership card includes the contact information. And CEO John Glavin of Florida-based Corporate Security Solutions Inc., which runs the program, said he is happy with how the union gets the word out on the program.

He also stressed the confidentiality of the program, saying the company doesn't even tell the union when players call for rides.

Jacksonville cornerback CB Rashean Mathis, the team's union representative, said players rarely, if ever, use the program.

``Confidentiality is the problem,'' Mathis said. ``Guys are going to go out and have fun. We're just like the regular guy that works a 9-to-5 job. On a Friday night, he goes out and has some beer. It's not the best-case scenario, but it happens in life.''

To use the program, players can either work in advance to set up a full night with a driver or make a call for a ride home. The brochure says most response times are less than an hour. The program is available all year, and Glavin said his company also serves the NBA and NHL.

In Major League Baseball, designated drivers are available to players and fans through the teams, and the players have access to a confidential program that will take them wherever they need to go.

In the NFL, some teams rely solely on the NFLPA's program, while others have an additional system. In Cincinnati, the Bengals pay a company to make two drivers available when an employee calls. One drives the caller home, and the other follows in the employee's vehicle.

Glavin said some players hesitate to use that kind of program because they don't want others driving their expensive vehicles. Either way, the program hinges on a player making the first move.

``We can't make them make the phone call,'' Glavin said.

Last summer, the NFL held its 15th annual rookie orientation, which includes a number of life skills sessions. For the first time, separate sessions were held for the AFC and NFC to make the groups smaller, and current and former players were brought in as speakers, including Philadelphia quarterback Michael Vick and Cincinnati cornerback Adam Jones. Both have had high-profile legal problems, with Vick spending time in prison in a dogfighting case.

The NFL has sessions on issues ranging from guns to alcohol and drug use at other times of the years, and all teams have counselors who work with players, league spokesman Dan Masonson said.

League owners are gathering in the Dallas area Wednesday. The agenda was set to focus in part on player safety through the addition of leg padding, but it's likely to change. A week before Brown's death, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher fatally shot his girlfriend before driving to the team's stadium and shooting himself in front of his coach and general manager.

``I am sure the events of the past two weeks will be discussed at the league meeting,'' league spokesman Greg Aiello said. ``We are always looking to do more.''

Several coaches said Monday they were talking again about issues of safety and good decisions after Brown's death. They also acknowledged there was only so much they could do, as did Mathis.

``We're not immune from life because we're athletes,'' Mathis said. ``We're not, but there are smarter choices.''

---

AP Sports Writers Janie McCauley, Larry Lage, Mark Long and Joe Kay contributed to this report.

---

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Tom BradyJul 27 02:02p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady's appeal of his four-game suspension still has not been announced, and the NFL is now open to talking with the NFL Players Association [ More ]

Doug MartinJul 27 12:02p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Doug Martin could be in line for a big, bounce-back year, in the opinion of beat writer Roy Cummings.

Casey MatthewsJul 27 09:12a

Minnesota Vikings LB Casey Matthews (hip) was placed on season-ending Injured Reserve due to a hip injury Sunday, July 26.

Casey MatthewsJul 26 02:52p

Minnesota Vikings LB Casey Matthews (hip) has been placed on injured reserve due to a hip injury that occurred during the team's offseason program.

Blair WalshJul 26 02:32p

Minnesota Vikings PK Blair Walsh signed a four-year contract extension Sunday, July 26, worth $14 million. The deal includes $5.25 million in guaranteed money.

Gosder CherilusJul 26 12:32p

Indianapolis Colts OT Gosder Cherilus was released Sunday, July 26.

Percy HarvinJul 25 09:22p

Buffalo Bills WR Percy Harvin required detailed instruction on how to run routes during OTAs, and Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News believes Harvin will open the year as [ More ]

DeAngelo WilliamsJul 25 08:12p

Pittsburgh Steelers RB DeAngelo Williams is not receiving any first-team reps despite RB Le'Veon Bell facing a three-game suspension, head coach Mike Tomlin said. Tomlin also said he is [ More ]

Jermaine GreshamJul 24 07:22p

Free-agent TE Jermaine Gresham (Bengals) agreed to a one-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals Friday, July 24, according to a source. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Isaiah CrowellJul 24 07:02p

Cleveland Browns RB Duke Johnson will play a prominent role in Cleveland's offense in his rookie year, but RB Isaiah Crowell is still the favorite to start. Johnson is [ More ]

Benjamin WatsonJul 24 06:22p

New Orleans Saints TE Benjamin Watson is slated to start at tight end over TE Josh Hill, according to Mike Triplett of ESPN.com.

Josh FreemanJul 24 04:52p

Miami Dolphins QB Josh Freeman was released Friday, July 24.

Nate WashingtonJul 24 03:52p

Houston Texans WR Nate Washington is projected to be the No. 2 wide receiver behind WR DeAndre Hopkins and ahead of WR Cecil Shorts, according to Tania Ganguli of ESPN.com.

Kelvin BenjaminJul 24 02:32p

Carolina Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin said he is currently at his playing weight a week before training camp begins. Benjamin said he has changed his conditioning and diet in order to stay in shape.

Junior GaletteJul 24 02:32p

New Orleans Saints LB Junior Galette was released Friday, July 24, according to a source.

Jabari PriceJul 24 02:22p

Minnesota Vikings CB Jabari Price was suspended two games for violating the personal conduct policy.

Derek WolfeJul 24 01:52p

Denver Broncos DE Derek Wolfe was suspended four games by the NFL for testing positive for a performance enhancing drug. Wolfe said he took a medication he didn't know was banned.

Sean SmithJul 24 10:02a

Kansas City Chiefs CB Sean Smith was suspended three games for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.

Michael HillJul 23 05:42p

Washington Redskins RB Michael Hill was waived Thursday, July 23.

Earl ThomasJul 23 12:32p

Seattle Seahawks FS Earl Thomas (shoulder) isn't expected to be cleared for training camp, and his status is questionable for Week 1.

Letroy GuionJul 23 12:02p

Green Bay Packers DT Letroy Guion has been suspended three games Thursday, July 23, for his Feb. 3 arrest. Guion plans to appeal.

Tom BradyJul 23 11:32a

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady was the subject of a settlement offer from the NFL Players Association to the league last week, but the offer was met with [ More ]

Mike TomlinJul 23 10:22a

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin agreed to an extension Thursday, July 23, through the 2018 season.

Jadeveon ClowneyJul 22 05:12p

Houston Texans LB Jadeveon Clowney (knee) looks spectacular, according to a team doctor. Clowney is seven months removed from microfracture surgery on his knee. It was previously reported that [ More ]

Marqise LeeJul 22 04:42p

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Marqise Lee (knee) is expected to be ready for training camp, according to wide receivers coach Jerry Sullivan. Sullivan added that Lee will be managed in order to preserve his health.

Sam BradfordJul 22 03:32p

Philadelphia Eagles QB Sam Bradford (knee) is expected to be ready to participate once training camp begins. Bradford has been rehabilitating his knee after suffering a second anterior cruciate [ More ]

Tyler EifertJul 22 03:22p

Cincinnati Bengals TE Tyler Eifert could be primed for a breakout season, in the opinion of Paul Dehner Jr. of The Cincinnati Enquirer.

L. TaliaferroJul 22 01:22p

Baltimore Ravens RB Lorenzo Taliaferro is expected to be pushed by RB Javorius Allen for the No. 2 running back job, but he likely will enter training camp as [ More ]

Jermaine GreshamJul 22 12:32p

Free-agent TE Jermaine Gresham (back) met with the Arizona Cardinals Tuesday, July 21, but the two sides have not agreed to a deal at this point. Gresham underwent back [ More ]

Odell Beckham Jr.Jul 22 12:12p

New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) said his hamstring is feeling a lot better than it did earlier this offseason. Beckham missed some of the offseason workouts because of a hamstring problem.

Bishop SankeyJul 22 08:32a

Tennessee Titans RB Bishop Sankey is the odds-on favorite to start in Week 1 because he has a year of experience and a full offseason under his belt.

Justin HunterJul 22 02:02a

Tennessee Titans WR Justin Hunter is expected to take part in training camp when it opens, as the team will let the legal process play out, according to a [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group