DUI Hitting NFL Hard this Season
By: Chris Kramer
DUI arrests are sacking National Football League players in high numbers so far this season.
San Diego Chargers' cornerback Cletis Gordon is just the latest NFL player to be arrested on suspicion of drunk driving. Gordon, a 23-year-old rookie out of Jackson State, was stopped around 2:15 a.m. on November 27th in downtown San Diego some ten hours after the Chargers' 21-14 victory against the Oakland Raiders.
According to the understanding of San Diego Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer, Gordon's breathalyzer test was below the state legal blood alcohol level of 0.08. Schottenheimer said he'd wait for all of the facts to see if Gordon had violated California DUI law before taking any disciplinary action. The Chargers had already placed linebacker Steve Foley on the "reserve non-football injury list" this season after he was charged in September with drunk driving and shot three times by a police officer following a confrontation.
A Dirty Laundry List of DUI Arrests for NFL Players this Season
- The same day of Gordon's arrest, a Clermont County court tossed out the results of a breathalyzer test in a drunk driving case against Cincinnati Bengals' wide receiver Chris Henry, who had been pulled over by the Ohio State Highway Patrol on June 3rd. Henry's blood alcohol content registered 0.092. As part of his bond, Henry can not consume alcohol or drugs, and must undergo testing to prove he's clean. He may continue to drive but will have to blow into a breathalyzer that is linked to an ignition interlock.
Henry has been arrested four times since December of last year on charges of alcohol, drugs and firearms. Henry was a passenger during the September 25th DUI arrest of teammate Odell Thurman, who registered a blood alcohol level of .18, which is twice the legal limit of Ohio DUI law.
- San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Antonio Bryant was arrested in San Mateo, California on November 21st for reckless and drunken driving charges, and resisting arrest. Bryant's 2005 Lamborghini was spotted driving more than 100 miles per hour on a California freeway, and he showed signs and symptoms of being drunk, according to San Mateo police Capt. Kevin Raffaelli.
- In October, B.J. Sams of the Baltimore Ravens was charged with driving under the influence in that city, resulting in his second DUI arrest in the last 14 months. A court date to determine whether Sams was in violation of Maryland DUI law is set for December 12th. Sams has been advised by his DUI attorney to not talk about the case.
- The Dallas Cowboys released defensive back Marcus Coleman following his arrest on suspicion of drunk driving in Irving, Texas in the early morning hours of Saturday, November 11th. Coleman had missed the first four games of this season for previously violating the NFL's substance abuse policy and now could be suspended by the league for a year if convicted of breaking Texas DUI law. Earlier in the season, wide receiver Koren Robinson was cut by the Minnesota Vikings following an August 15th DUI arrest, signed by the Green Bay Packers and later suspended by the league for one season for breaking the substance abuse policy.
- Jacksonville Jaguars' left tackle Khalif Barnes also received a DUI on November 11th. Barnes allegedly failed two breathalyzer tests, while his blood alcohol level was reported to be at .12, above the state's legal limit of 0.08. Barnes is the third Jaguar to be arrested this season. Cornerback Brian Williams pleaded no contest to drunk driving charges in September while Jaguars' defensive end Bobby Clay was arrested for reckless driving and possession of a controlled painkiller in October. The charges against Clay were later dropped.
While NFL players receive high salaries and notoriety for their in-game actions, these cases reveal how constantly being in the spotlight can be less appealing, especially when involving DUI off the field. And as the Coleman and Robinson cases depict, DUI penalties are more harsh than being flagged for jumping off sides in a game.