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Thread: Burwell: Athletes Just Don't Learn From Other's Arrests

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    Burwell: Athletes Just Don't Learn From Other's Arrests

    Burwell: Athletes just don't learn from others' arrests

    BY BRYAN BURWELL, Post-DIspatch Sports Columnist
    Friday, July 20, 2012

    Because this is St. Louis, sadly we all know exactly how these sports stories go. Regardless of sport, with no consideration of age, sex or race, the script rarely changes.

    An athlete or a coach drinks all night, then climbs behind the wheel of their expensive car or truck.

    You can come up with your own code words of social acceptance that make it all sound so benign. Tipsy. Buzzed. Mellow. Whatever.

    But you know how it all ends, and I'm getting tired of writing about this repetitive nonsense and inexcusable behavior. For the lucky ones, it ends with embarrassing arrests, punitive suspensions and awkward apologies. But far too often, it's a tragic tale that comes to a disturbing halt with a heap of twisted metal, funeral processions, lawsuits, court trials, lives lost and reputations destroyed.

    I just don't understand why it keeps happening.

    This is the story of the late Josh Hancock and the story of former Blues player Joe Murphy, too. This is Leonard Little's tale and David Freese's; It's about Tony La Russa and Gary Pinkel and Rob Ramage. This is the story of former Illinois basketball player Jamar Smith leaving the scene of an accident and allegedly leaving his unconscious teammate for dead because he got behind the wheel of a car while he was too impaired by a night of binge drinking to avoid wrapping it around the trunk of a tree.

    And now we can add Rams defensive end Robert Quinn to the list of characters in this all-too-familiar St. Louis sports story. Quinn was arrested last week on DWI charges in North County. It's the deadly DUI-DWI lottery that links millionaire athletes and ordinary folks when they take the dangerous gamble to get behind the wheel after a night of excessive drinking. It's a frightening bit of risk taking that can end with a woozy fool lucky enough to get home without killing anyone. It's a horrible and dicey risk that usually ends with a publicized traffic stop and embarrassing arrest.

    And so it was for Quinn last week, when he was arrested in Florissant after the 22-year-old former first-round draft pick crashed his vehicle while trying to exit Interstate 270 at the Washington/Elizabeth exit.

    Quinn got off lucky. No one died. And maybe this will be the last time he makes such a horrible lapse in judgment. But what if it isn't? We know that one mistake didn't stop Little or Freese. We know that La Russa's arrest was no deterrent in his own clubhouse, because a little more than a month later Hancock killed himself driving while intoxicated.

    What does it take for people to learn?

    We know that stern warnings from the NFL clearly didn't register with Quinn. This is the very thing that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell recently warned all 32 teams to be on guard for as their players headed off into the short break between the end of organized offseason workouts in June and the start of training camps at the end of July. Last month, Goodell sent out a league-wide memo specifically warning front offices to reinforce to their players about the dangers of driving while impaired.

    In part, the memo said:

    "There have been several negative law enforcement incidents in recent months involving both players and non-player employees. These incidents primarily have involved alcohol or drug-related offenses, specifically driving while impaired. Clearly, operating a vehicle under the influence of any substance poses a significant risk of injury to the driver and others. These risks are underscored by well-known tragedies within the NFL family.

    "The Personal Conduct Policy makes clear that we must all conduct ourselves in a manner that is 'responsible, that promotes the values upon which the league is based, and is lawful.' Every negative incident undermines the respect we have earned from our fans, erodes the confidence of our business partners and threatens the continued success of the league.... As your club concludes its mini-camp, it is essential that you take time to reinforce this message with your staff and players."

    Goodell reminded team officials and players that they had access to a league-sponsored program that provides driver services 24 hours a day for $85 (including tip). You can hire a driver to operate your personal vehicle or a private limo or sedan. The idea here is if you know you're going out on the town, make the call before you go out. When you earn millions of dollars a year, an investment of roughly $20 an hour for a driver seems like the wisest investment in the world.

    Yet this summer, more than a half dozen players have been involved in DUI-DWI incidents: Quinn, San Francisco ***** and former Mizzou defensive lineman Aldon Smith; Detroit DL Nick Fairley; Oakland wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey; Jacksonville WR and No. 4 overall draft pick Justin Blackmon; New York Giants offensive lineman David Diehl; and Seattle RB Marshawn Lynch.

    How many more high-risk late-night journeys have to end like this before athletes stop putting themselves and others at risk?

    Why doesn't every Rams rookie know about the troubles of Leonard Little? Why aren't Little's mistakes drilled into their heads the moment they walk through those Rams Parks doors? I know the playbook is important, but the tragedy that Little caused has to be considered as vital as anything in that playbook. But like I said, this isn't a Rams story. It's a Cardinals story and a Blues story and a Mizzou story, and it's a story about everyday people too.

    Sadly, in this brewery town, too often being the toast of the town is a blessing and a curse. It's the story that repeats itself with so much regularity that it breaks your heart, troubles your guts and makes you wonder why so many inebriated athletes, coaches and people in general just keep climbing into their cars every night endangering the lives of everyone in their path.

    I'm sick and tired of telling this story.


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    Re: Burwell: Athletes Just Don't Learn From Other's Arrests

    Quote Originally Posted by BRYAN BURWELL
    I just don't understand why it keeps happening.
    Oh come on Bryan, you know why.

    It's alcohol and alcohol is a legal drug that impairs judgement.

    If you want to write about it then just get to the truth without the melodrama.
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    Re: Burwell: Athletes Just Don't Learn From Other's Arrests

    Quote Originally Posted by Ferter View Post
    Oh come on Bryan, you know why.

    It's alcohol and alcohol is a legal drug that impairs judgement.

    If you want to write about it then just get to the truth without the melodrama.
    You beat me to it Ferter. I was going to use the exact same quote you did but you summarized it well.

    It is almost sarcastic for a professional writer / columnist to say, "I don't understand..." or, "What does it take for people to learn?" on this particular subject of alcohol.

    These high profile cases of professional athletes -- any sports league, you name it (or other celebrities) -- is just the tip of the iceberg. Can you imagine the number of 'low' profile DWI cases that occur on a daily basis, most only ending in a fender bender, others, truly and terribly tragic.

    I'm sick and tired of telling this story. -- BBurwell
    Oh, I'm with you on that one BB.

    It is the current culture we live in, I mentioned it in the other Quinn DWI thread. It should be known as the 'current culture of curse' despite its incredible indu$try.

    Million dollar marketing schemes. Subliminal messages?

    *. - Oooo, this one has "character".
    *. - Live it up! 'Light' here, 'light' there.
    *. - Drink now, ask about consequences later.
    *. - No worries -- you're drinking "responsibleeee".
    *. - Look! The Most Interesting Man in the World drinks this brand.
    *. - All these great looking people, they're drinking! And seem to be having tons of fun too!
    *. - You're playing with fire but, hey, odds are nothing will happen; go ahead, you won't get burned.

    Alcohol = H U M O N G O U $ REVENUE$ . Good times. Great jokes too.

    Yeah right.
    Last edited by RealRam; -07-20-2012 at 07:24 PM. Reason: Tyop

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    Re: Burwell: Athletes Just Don't Learn From Other's Arrests

    I'm gonna' be perfectly honest. I have NEVER driven a car when I've felt impaired in any way. But I HAVE driven after drinking alcohol at a bar or restaurant. I'd venture to guess many people in society and most of those on the forum have done the same. But when you read of a 220-275 lb. athlete getting arrested for DWI after crashing into a parked car or running off the road, DO YOU REALIZED HOW DRUNK THEY MUST HAVE BEEN??

    The issue to me is one of self-discipline. When you are in the public eye- an athlete, an entertainer, a musician, a public official- you are held to a higher standard by the public and subjected to more scrutiny. That is the trade off one makes for the boatloads of money, fame and perks they get from their chosen profession. Whether or not that seems fair is irrelevant; it won't change, and therefore an athlete must exercise a degree of caution with everything they do- especially in this day and age of cellphone cameras, twitter, etc.

    Many athletes are narcissistic and have been led to believe all their lives they are beyond punishment, which is why they run afoul of the law. These guys do not look at things the same way fans do. If you've been given preferential treatment all your life because you're a top athlete, why wouldn't that same athlete think they are above reproach when they break the law? And we've all seen how money makes certain crimes and transgressions "go away".
    Last edited by NJ Ramsfan1; -07-20-2012 at 09:23 PM.

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    Re: Burwell: Athletes Just Don't Learn From Other's Arrests

    Quote Originally Posted by RealRam View Post
    You beat me to it Ferter. I was going to use the exact same quote you did but you summarized it well.

    It is almost sarcastic for a professional writer / columnist to say, "I don't understand..." or, "What does it take for people to learn?" on this particular subject of alcohol.

    These high profile cases of professional athletes -- any sports league, you name it (or other celebrities) -- is just the tip of the iceberg. Can you imagine the number of 'low' profile DWI cases that occur on a daily basis, most only ending in a fender bender, others, truly and terribly tragic.



    Oh, I'm with you on that one BB.

    It is the current culture we live in, I mentioned it in the other Quinn DWI thread. It should be known as the 'current culture of curse' despite its incredible indu$try.

    Million dollar marketing schemes. Subliminal messages?

    *. - Oooo, this one has "character".
    *. - Live it up! 'Light' here, 'light' there.
    *. - Drink now, ask about consequences later.
    *. - No worries -- you're drinking "responsibleeee".
    *. - Look! The Most Interesting Man in the World drinks this brand.
    *. - All these great looking people, they're drinking! And seem to be having tons of fun too!
    *. - You're playing with fire but, hey, odds are nothing will happen; go ahead, you won't get burned.

    Alcohol = H U M O N G O U $ REVENUE$ . Good times. Great jokes too.

    Yeah right.
    I dont know about you guys but The Most Interesting Man In the World makes me drink and drive every night after 6pm.... MST of course

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    Re: Burwell: Athletes Just Don't Learn From Other's Arrests

    I'd still like to see the % of NFL athletes arrested (compared to only other NFL athletes) vs. the rest of the population. Might shed some light on whether it's actually a "problem" in the sense they are doing it more than others, or if it is similar to the population at large.

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    Re: Burwell: Athletes Just Don't Learn From Other's Arrests

    Quote Originally Posted by berg8309 View Post
    I'd still like to see the % of NFL athletes arrested (compared to only other NFL athletes) vs. the rest of the population. Might shed some light on whether it's actually a "problem" in the sense they are doing it more than others, or if it is similar to the population at large.
    I wondered the same thing and came across this:

    According to a recent article, DUI arrest rates are much lower among professional athletes than among the general public. For this semi-scientific study, sports writer Jon Bois searched for every available DUI arrest involving an MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL player over the last year. Included in that list was Hines Ward of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    He then compared it to DUI rates among the general public. Here's what he found:

    Baseball: 1 in 433 players arrested for DUI in the last year
    Basketball: 1 in 237.5 players arrested for DUI in the last year
    Football: 1 in 160 players arrested for DUI in the last year
    General U.S. public: an estimated 1 in 149 drivers arrested for DUI/DWI in 2010

    Granted, the sample sizes are different. However, Bois believes that the statistics prove a valuable point. DUI arrest rates are significantly higher among the general public than among professional athletes. Rates in the NFL come close to matching the general public, but were certainly not any higher.

    So it seems that professional athletes are not especially prone to drunk driving. But those who are arrested for DUI certainly risk a lot of bad press and damage to their reputation, even if they are later acquitted. Anyone who has ever faced DUI charges can certainly relate to that predicament.

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    Re: Burwell: Athletes Just Don't Learn From Other's Arrests

    Why don't these athletes learn?

    It's pretty simple really..

    Just because they can throw a ball, or run faster than most, it doesn't mean they're intelligent.

    It's really a simple matter of stupid.

    Really.
    Faithful Rams fan since 1968

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    Re: Burwell: Athletes Just Don't Learn From Other's Arrests

    Without getting on my self-righteous or high-horse rant, I have a hard time feeling sorry for anyone who gets either a DUI or a DWI.

    On another note, I'm thinking that 'back in the day' a lot of celebrities (professional athletes included) were awarded the courtesy of a ride home, but with the advent of the digital age where patrol cars have cameras and the high percentage of cell phones and cameras it is harder to keep such incidents low-key.

    Maybe the 'don't you know who I am' line just isn't as persuasive as it used to be?

    There is also the chance for an officer to attain his or her 15 minutes of fame for being the one to bring the rascally character to justice?

    Regardless, this is pretty much an inexcusable act and it seems to be part of an unfolding pattern of behavior. One that seems (in my mind's eye) to be more prevalent of a 'gifted athlete' who was coddled and protected because he had potential as opposed to the athlete who had to work harder to achieve the same rank or position.

    Oh, well. This will all blow over soon and and he'll have people genuflecting at his pedestal if he has any measure of success.

    But then, I digress...
    RnD

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    Re: Burwell: Athletes Just Don't Learn From Other's Arrests

    Quote Originally Posted by Ramsanddodgers View Post
    Without getting on my self-righteous or high-horse rant, I have a hard time feeling sorry for anyone who gets either a DUI or a DWI.
    BTW, honest question: What is the difference between a DUI and a DWI?


    The great irony ... many of the biggest sports events are sponsored by the biggest alcohol names.

    Uhysh!

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    Re: Burwell: Athletes Just Don't Learn From Other's Arrests

    Quote Originally Posted by RealRam View Post
    BTW, honest question: What is the difference between a DUI and a DWI?
    Hey RealRam,

    DUI= Driving Under the Influence which does not differentiate between alchohol or drugs

    DWI= Driving While Impaired or Driving While Intoxicated. In states which use both designations the DWI is considered lesser charge and often someone under the legal BAC, but still was judged to be impaired, has their charges reduced from a DUI to a DWI
    RnD

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    Re: Burwell: Athletes Just Don't Learn From Other's Arrests

    I fail to see why this article is aimed at just athletes, rather than anyone that drinks and drives.

    While there might be plenty of examples of athletes drinking and driving, there are plenty more examples of non-athletes drinking and driving. Shouldn't they be learning from others too?

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    Re: Burwell: Athletes Just Don't Learn From Other's Arrests

    Quote Originally Posted by Tomahawk247 View Post
    I fail to see why this article is aimed at just athletes, rather than anyone that drinks and drives.

    While there might be plenty of examples of athletes drinking and driving, there are plenty more examples of non-athletes drinking and driving. Shouldn't they be learning from others too?
    Absolutely!

    These high profile cases of professional athletes -- any sports league, you name it (or other celebrities) -- is just the tip of the iceberg. Can you imagine the number of 'low' profile DWI cases that occur on a daily basis, most only ending in a fender bender, others, truly and terribly tragic. -- RealRam
    The rest of the alcohol consuming / loving world would fall into the "low profile" cases that occur every day everywhere. It's just that celebrities make it more ... 'popular'?

    "Popular" he says.

    Some athletes seem to prefer having their faces on the front of Wheaties cereal boxes, others seem they just don't get it and end up with a mug shot from jail. It could be a matter of self discipline as someone here said.


    And thanks RnD for the explanation on DUI vs DWI.


    PS: Wheaties worth is puny, of course, compared to the gigantic alcohol beverages companies.
    PPS: Granted, not every athlete on the face of a Wheaties cereal box is a role model.
    PPPS: Also, 'Trix are for kids', ha. Booze is for g r o w n ups!
    Last edited by RealRam; -07-24-2012 at 12:27 AM. Reason: RnD

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    Re: Burwell: Athletes Just Don't Learn From Other's Arrests

    Quote Originally Posted by NJ Ramsfan1 View Post
    I'm gonna' be perfectly honest. I have NEVER driven a car when I've felt impaired in any way. But I HAVE driven after drinking alcohol at a bar or restaurant.
    .
    This is part of the problem, most people don't FEEL impaired when they get behind the wheel. If asked they will quickly tell you they are alright. Being 'impaired" clouds your judgment, so the "impaired" person is the last one that should determine if they are "impaired" or not.
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    Re: Burwell: Athletes Just Don't Learn From Other's Arrests

    Deleted this duplicate.

    Sorry.
    Last edited by RealRam; -07-25-2012 at 01:39 AM. Reason: Duplicate post

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