What Were They Thinking?: Team and Player Responsibility for DUI’s in the NFL
On April 3, 3:08am, PJ Williams, who was driving a rental car on a suspended license, was arrested for Driving Under the Influence (“DUI”). Williams made an illegal left turn out of a McDonald’s parking lot in Tallahassee, swerved over the center line several times and almost hitting a curb before being stopped by the Florida State University Police Department.
What was Williams thinking?
Williams — who is/was considered a first round cornerback prospect in the April 30, 2015 draft.
Williams — who is currently dating FSU female basketball guard Emiah Bingley.
Williams — who has responsibilities to this adorable little girl.
The answer is…he wasn’t.
Williams was previously involved in a “hit and run” on October 5th, 2014, swerving into the oncoming lane and hitting an oncoming vehicle. Thankfully, nobody was hurt. However, even though Williams left the scene of the accident before police arrived, Williams wasn’t charged. The Florida State University Police on scene, plus some “hocus pocus”, let Williams (who was also driving with a suspended license) off with two tickets. The tickets totaled only $392 in fines because he returned to the scene of the accident 20 minutes after driving away (and, perhaps, because he was an FSU football player). Maybe it’s just me, but I didn’t think that returning to the scene of a “hit and run” made it any less of a crime. But hey, I’m not from Tallahassee.
Either way, you’d think Williams would have learned his lesson.
What makes the most recent incident even worse is that Williams’ license was suspected to be suspended for the unpaid fine from October 5th incident ($392). And it wasn’t even the first time he didn’t pay his fines, as in 2014 Williams’ license was suspended due to unpaid overdue fines of just $296.
Williams has certainly hurt his draft value, sliding out of at least the first round. Whether he’ll be able to straighten himself out and get his career going in the NFL, and thus what effect these incidents will ultimately have on his family, is yet to be seen.
Running back, Bernard Hayward Pierce, 24, won his first Super Bowl in his rookie year. Drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in 2012, Pierce rushed for 33 yards on 12 attempts in the 34-31 win against the San Francisco 49ers. In his second year, Pierce became the Raven’s leading rusher. In 2014, Pierce became the starting running back after Ray Rice was suspended and cut, but failed to do much with it as Justin Forsett literally “ran away” with the job.
On March 18th, 2015, Pierce was pulled over for speeding at 2 am in Baltimore County. Unable to walk a straight line for more than 2 yards, Pierce failed the field sobriety test and was subsequently arrested for DUI.
Like the Baltimore Ravens need anymore bad press. Pierce was released from the Ravens later that day.
Ravens announced they have released RB Bernard Pierce, who was arrested for DWI.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 18, 2015
On March 19th, Pierce was claimed off waivers by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Whether Pierce puts his career back on track is yet to be seen.
What’s Your Vector, Victor?
Cornerback Victor Hampton, 23, went undrafted in 2014. Hampton was signed and cut by the Cincinnati Bengals in June 2014. In October, Hampton joined the New York Giants practice squad. Hampton signed with the Baltimore Ravens on January 2015.
On March 1, 2015, Hampton was arrested and charged with speeding / reckless driving (going 100 mph in a 55 mph zone) and possession of an open alcohol container. In addition, two fellow passengers were cited with possession with concealed weapons.
This wasn’t Hampton’s first encounter with the law. A month before the 2014 draft, Hampton (and fellow teammate defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles) was wanted by police for questioning in connection to attacking a man at a New York nightclub.
A couple of weeks before the alleged club promoter beating, Hampton (and his sister) was arrested for disorderly conduct after the police tried to stop an argument between the two siblings.
See a pattern?
The Ravens did. And since, as mentioned above, the Ravens are the last team that need anymore trouble, Hampton was cut the next day.
Not the President
Linebacker Andrew Jackson, 23, was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in 2014. Jackson played 13 games, 10 tackles and 1 sack during his rookie year.
On January 23, 2015, Jackson was pulled over in Bowling Green, KY., for drunk driving with blood alcohol level of .088. Jackson plead guilty and was confined to his home for 14 days, fined and was mandated to an alcohol treatment program. This was Jackson’s second DUI in less than a year.
The Indianapolis Colts waived Jackson on February 11th, 2015. His career is now completely up in the air.
There are Some Who Call Me…Tim
Cornerback Tim Jennings, 31, played with the Indianapolis Colts from 2006-2009, getting his first Super Bowl ring in his rookie season (2006) in Super Bowl XLI against the Chicago Bears. Coincidentally, Jennings signed with the Chicago Bears in 2010 during free agency. The two time pro-bowler (2012 & 2013) re-signed a 4-year contract ($22.4 million) with the Bears in January 2014.
On January 7, 2015, Jennings was pulled over for going 99 mph in a 65 mph zone in Gwinnett County, Georgia. Jennings, who told officers he was late for a parent-teacher conference, refused to take a field sobriety test.
Jennings was charged with speeding, reckless driving and driving under the influence.
The resolution of the charges are currently undetermined.
Jennings is still with the Bears. In late January, Jennings underwent arthroscopic knee surgery.
Drinking and driving can ruin lives…and potentially NFL careers.
The rate of drunk driving is highest among 21-25 years old (23.4%), just around the ages we see many NFL draft prospects and rookie NFL players. And about one-third of all drivers arrested or convicted of drunk driving are repeat offenders.
It’s been said before, and probably so many times that you’re sick of hearing it. Sports figures are role models and should act responsibly. With the NFL’s rise in popularity, not only in the US but overseas as well, there comes a significant responsibility not only for players to be smart off the field, but for teams to be smart with whom they sign to play the game and put in the position to be role models to young fans around the world.
When draft day comes, I hope all the NFL teams keep that in mind.