Earlier today, the Los Angeles Times reported that Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Eric Wright, who signed with the Bucs as a free agent earlier this offseason, was arrested on suspicion of felony driving under the influence early this morning. Wright was not injured and told the arresting officers he had been drinking. However, he refused a field sobriety test, including a breathalyzer. LAPD booked him in lieu of $100,000 bail.
Once this news hit Twitter, the predictable torrent of outrage proceeded to fill my timeline, with "Why won't NFL players JUST CALL A CAB???" being a recurring theme.
You see, this is the time of year when the only NFL news of note, outside of another Jonathan Vilma lawsuit, is mostly NFL players being arrested, and more often than not for driving while under the influence.
Of course, this isn't just an NFL problem; it's a problem for our society at large, but that doesn't stop the moralizing and outrage from getting turned up full-blast on Twitter while targeting NFL players.
The answer to "Why won't NFL players call a cab?" is pretty simple. Yes, they can afford to call a car; so can most people who get booked for drunk driving.
The honest truth is that there is very little consequence to getting caught, especially for NFL players, who often face little more than a fine and maybe a slap on the wrist from their NFL employers.
Tom Pellisero with ESPN Twin Cities captured this reasoning perfectly:
You guys really wonder why NFL players don't call a cab? Donte Stallworth got one month in jail, is still in the league and HE KILLED A GUY.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 2, 2012
Even worse? That's just the latest example.
Back in 1998, St. Louis Rams defensive end Leonard Little left a bar where he had been celebrating his 24th birthday, drove off in his car and proceeded to crash into and kill a woman named Susan Gutweiler. Little was suspended for eight games by the NFL.
Then, in 2004, Little was arrested again for driving under the influence after reportedly failing three field sobriety tests. While Little did no jail time after his attorney argued, successfully, that the arresting officer didn't follow proper procedures in administering the tests, the fact that Little even put himself in that situation speaks volumes.
These are obviously extreme cases, but they serve as a clear examples of why players feel as though there is little reason to call a cab when deciding to get behind the wheel of a car after having a few drinks. What's the worst that can happen? Yes they can kill someone—and after missing some games, maybe a full season—they can go right back to playing football.
Until that changes, their behavior won't.