The Dallas Cowboys are looking for ways to improve how the team handles drunken driving in the wake of two high-profile arrests and the car crash death of a practice squad player, a team official and former Cowboys star said Monday.
Calvin Hill, who played six seasons for the Cowboys and is now a player development consultant, issued a statement Monday. Hill said the team understands the consequences of drunken driving, especially since it had ”recently experienced the most tragic of circumstances regarding the issue.”
Nose tackle Josh Brent faces an intoxication manslaughter charge in a Dec. 8 crash that killed his friend and practice squad member Jerry Brown. And last week, fellow Cowboys lineman Jay Ratliff was arrested after sideswiping a semitrailer truck. Ratliff is charged with driving while intoxicated.
Blood-alcohol tests released by police say both Brent and Ratliff were well above the legal limit.
Hill did not name Brent, but said the team had communicated with Ratliff and was watching the legal process.
”The critical goal is to effect the decision making process in the hours before the wrong decision is made,” Hill said. ”Our player assistance programs in the areas of preventing incidents such as these are at the highest level in professional sports, but we are always looking to do better and for ways to improve.”
The NFL Players Association offers a safe ride program to players, and every player’s membership card carries contact information for it. Players can either set up a full night with a driver in advance or call for a ride home when they need one.
The NFL can discipline players for violating alcohol laws, and each team is required to hold annual life skills sessions that include instruction on drinking.
”We will continue to draw upon the best expertise and resources available, both internally and from outside the organization, to work toward being the best in the areas of education, prevention, and effecting the right decisions,” Hill said.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello declined to comment on the statement.