Baltimore Ravens Cut Bernard Pierce – Is DUI Finally Unacceptable in the NFL?

Just hours after he was arrested for DUI, the Baltimore Ravens cut Bernard Pierce from the team. Why is this news? Were Pierce a truck driver, teacher, or nurse, his job would of course be on the line for an alcohol-related offense. Are football players different?

Bernard Pierce Booking PhotoThe answer is yes. Pierce’s dismissal is news because for years the NFL has been lax in disciplining players for crimes off the field. And no crime is more common in professional football than DUI. From 2000 to 2014, 713 players were arrested. 202 of those arrests were for driving under the influence. Entire sites are dedicated to the transgressions of football players.

Professional football is a lucrative business, and the people who ultimately make the product that’s being sold are the players. So the NFL and the NFL Players Association have been cautious in reining in errant players merely because they pose a danger to society. It must be said that progress has been made in recent years; the NFL’s alcohol policy now calls for a two-game ban for a first violation, and stiffer penalties for repeat offenses. But that is still a far cry from immediate dismissal, the call made by the Ravens.

Football-and-dui-comboIt took a scandal the magnitude of the Ray Rice affair to nudge the Ravens into such strict action. According to reports, Pierce told police that he would be cut from the team; while the Ravens have no written policy, the management had warned players that they would face dismissal if they tangled with the law.

Pierce admitted to having had had three shots of Jack Daniels, and was going 55 mph in a 30 mph zone in Towson, Maryland.

Is self-monitoring by teams the answer? Will all the franchises take DUI as seriously as the Ravens are? Public opinion is the real driver here. Because fans have expressed outrage at teams that condone illegal behavior, one team has decided to hold their players to a higher standard.

If the public keeps up the noise – if we show our approval of the Ravens for their decision – maybe the other teams will follow Baltimore’s example.