It is way past time, NFL. Same goes for you, too, NFL Players Association.
Don't just take a stronger stance against drunk driving. Take a front-line role in a national crusade to eliminate a serious but preventable problem that can devastate lives, as we've seen. Show us real leadership.
There's no question the nation's most popular sports league and the players union, touted as a partner, can have an impact, given its tremendous influence. Millions watch. Millions can be affected. Now is the time to do something.
The league and union can begin by changing an alcohol policy that is so weak a player can get arrested for DUI after playing on Monday Night Football, then take his place in the lineup the next Sunday. That happened this season with Atlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner, a first-time offender, but that's not an aberration with the NFL's policy. It's written to allow that.
This is not a quick-twitch reaction to the tragedy that occurred in Texas, ending the life of Jerry Brown, the Dallas Cowboys practice squad linebacker. But perhaps Brown's death -- a case of NFL-on-NFL crime, with the deadly car driven by Brown's best friend, college roommate and Cowboys teammate Josh Brent -- can add urgency to the need for the NFL and the union to attack drunk driving.
The union should listen to its members, like Steelers linebacker Larry Foote: "We have to get a hold of the alcohol. Guys won't want to hear that. But that's the problem." And Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel: "It needs to be taken seriously. It's a very serious deal. You just pray that sometimes we're going to realize it's not worth it."
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell once suspended Adam "Pacman" Jones for an entire season for repeated brushes with the law, but no convictions.He banned Ben Roethlisberger for four games amid allegations of sexual misconduct, with no charges.
But when it comes to DUI, Goodell can ban alcohol from being served on team charter flights, but he can't suspend a first-time DUI offender under the personal conduct policy because the language in the collective bargaining agreement won't let him.
This is not about giving Goodell more power. DeMaurice Smith, the NFLPA's executive director, should be just as aggressive in demanding that drunk drivers are benched for a first offense. But if it's true, as the NFL charges, that the players union has been resistant to new language and a tougher policy, then shame on the NFLPA.
A player busted with Adderall in his system will draw a four-game suspension for a first offense. A player found to have an above-legal level of alcohol in his system while driving will pretty much forfeit two game checks as a first-timer (up to a maximum of $50,000), and keep on playing. That's wrong.
Due process is important, but even with a conviction for DUI, a first-time offender won't get a suspension - which, for NFL players, is the best deterrent of all.
Consider the numbers: According to USA TODAY Sports data, 28% of NFL player arrests since 2000 have been for DUI charges. Eighteen players have been arrested for DUI in 2012 - more than double the seven cases in 2011. Since the research was first collected in 2000, the most DUI arrests in a single year, 20, occurred in 2006.
The increasing rate of DUI arrests suggests that support programs by the league and teams are not working, and personal responsibility is being thrown to the wind.
A four-game suspension, similiar to a PED violation, should be the minimum for first-time DUI offenders. A tougher alcohol policy would send the right message. And save lives.