The Norman Transcript

National Sports

December 11, 2012

Player death raises questions

IRVING, Texas — 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.

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