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Published on October 5th, 2014 | by Thompson


The NFL’s Alcohol Problem

With the Minnesota Vikings’ Tom Johnson giving the NFL another black eye this morning, arrested for trespassing and disorderly conduct, a forum at Vikings Journal brought something very interesting to my attention: “According to USA Today, which maintains a database of NFL player arrests, the Vikings have had more arrests than any other team since 2000; Johnson’s arrest is the 47th for a Vikings player since that year.”

You might say the “love boat” incident was responsible for a lot of those arrests, but you’d be wrong. Just four players were arrested for lewd behavior at the infamous, nautical orgy featuring sex acts and plenty of alcohol and drugs, I’m sure.

Curious to discover what was responsible for the most NFL arrests since 2000, I did a simple search and quickly lost count of the DUI and alcohol-related arrests, some of which are difficult to determine since many domestic violence charges result from alcohol-abuse, but alcohol isn’t necessarily cited every time.

The Vikings have had 16 arrests for DUI since 2000, accounting for 34 percent of arrests, but if you consider the arrests that most-likely occurred due to alcohol or in places alcohol is made available, the numbers get scary. In seven instances a Vikings player was arrested at a nightclub, and there was one arrest for public intoxication. If you add that to the four arrests on the “love boat” and Johnson’s arrest for refusing to leave a bar, then nearly 60 percent of the Vikings’ arrests are alcohol-related.

The picture doesn’t get any prettier for the NFL, either. There has been 206 DUI arrests of NFL players since 2000, accounting for 28 percent of all arrests. There were another 21 arrests specifically for alcohol, 14 for public intoxication, and two more for public urination in the locale of a bar. That accounts for 33 percent of all NFL arrests.

There were 62 other arrests at nightclubs, 33 at bars, and five on boats that weren’t DUI-related, bringing the total percentage for alcohol-related NFL arrests to a staggering 47 percent. That doesn’t even include domestic assault arrests that don’t happen to have alcohol listed as a factor. There have been 90 arrests of NFL players for domestic reasons since 2000 and none of them list alcohol as playing a role in the arrest. Yeah, sure. That’s the truth.

So the NFL, an entity that depends on billions of dollars in ad revenue from the likes of Anheuser-Busch, Miller, and even Bacardi, is an alcoholic. Why am I not surprised?

I’ve heard the best way to deal with addiction is to admit you have a problem, NFL, so maybe investing some of those alcohol revenues in alcohol and drug education of young, impressionable NFL players could help bring down the number of alcohol-related arrests. Maybe contract clauses need to be established that limit the earning power of players who enjoy booze, nightclubs, and strippers.

I’ve also heard trying to quit two things cold turkey is impossible, so you’ll want to deal with the domestic violence and child abuse issues before attempting to ease off the sauce. The new drug policy is an improvement and a step in the right direction, but until players are allowed to use marijuana, I think the NFL and the entire world will continue to have a problem with alcohol.

According to the work of D. Mark Anderson, an economist at Montana State University, “Based on existing empirical evidence, we expect that the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington will lead to increased marijuana consumption coupled with decreased alcohol consumption. As a consequence, these states will experience a reduction in the social harms resulting from alcohol use. While it is more than likely that marijuana produced by state-sanctioned growers will end up in the hands of minors, we predict that overall youth consumption will remain stable. On net, we predict the public health benefits of legalization to be positive.”

So there you go, Roger Goodell. All you need to fix the NFL’s alcohol problem is fix the country’s alcohol problem. That shouldn’t take too long.

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About the Author

When Thompson isn't busy writing for Go Gonzo Journal, you may find him drunk at the movie theater with Professor Heinous or stirring up trouble in a bar with his attorney. Thompson also enjoys skiing, hiking, camping, and watching and betting on baseball and football.

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