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DUI and Athletes


As a huge sports fan I am fascinated and surprised when I read about prominent athletes being arrested for Driving Under the Influence.  Most people including myself feel that athletes are supposed to be role models for the youth and give them someone to look up to. After all what young boy doesn’t dream of one day playing in the NBA, NFL or MLB.  To many kids these athletes can do no wrong and literally walk on water.  They make millions of dollars, drive fancy cars and most have gorgeous supermodel girlfriends or wives.  Unfortunately all you have to do is read the papers to see that athletes are making the news to often for the wrong reasons including being arrested for DUI.

  • Just today St. Louis Rams safety T.J. McDonald was arrested for DUI in Los Angeles. Although all the facts are not out yet it appears that he was under the influence of something other then alcohol from initial reports.
  • Last November former Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings quarterback Donavan McNabb was sentenced to 18 days in jail for being arrested in Arizona on June 28, 2015.  It was reported that his blood alcohol level at the time he was driving was a .17%
  • Ty Lawson, point guard for the Denver Nuggets was arrested for a DUI on July 14, 2015 in California. This was his second arrest for DUI in six months and third overall.  He was also arrested for DUI while a student at The University of North Carolina.
  • Even U.S.A. golden boy Olympian Michael Phelps pled guilty to his second DUI in Baltimore, Maryland in 2014. He avoided jail time all together and was given a probationary period. He is now training for what will be his last olympics this summer in Rio.
  • SuperBowl Champion Marshawn Lynch of the Seattle Seahawks was arrested for DUI in July 2014 although the charges were reduced to reckless driving right after the NFL season ended.
  • Former heavyweight champion “iron” Mike Tyson pled guilty to a DUI on September 24, 2007.  Tyson for operating a motor vehicle with cocaine in his system.
  • One of my favorite athletes, Charles Barkley who was elected to the NBA Hall of Fame in 2006 was arrested for DUI on December 31, 2008 while in Arizona.

These are just a few names of prominent athletes arrested for DUI during or after their playing careers.  For most people an arrest for a DUI will have monumental consequences including loss of employment. For the most part it is very rare that you will see an athlete lose his job over a DUI conviction. After all the league and teams make millions of dollars in revenue from these athletes and its important to keep them on the field or court. So while a DUI conviction will affect a normal every day person financially, for the typical athlete they can just write a check and they will barely feel it in their wallet. On some occasions athletes are fired but this usually is the case only after they are retired. Donavan McNabb for instance was fired by Fox Sports shortly after his DUI arrest in Arizona. He was working for Fox Sports as a football analyst.

I agree that most athletes are role models for children,  but many are not. Kids don’t see this side of sports because all they do is see their favorite player on Sunday afternoons making a spectacular catch and scoring that last basket to win the game. Is there a double standard when it comes to athletes and the law.  Most people I would guess would say yes and I think they would be correct. Sports is a multibillion industry that cannot be successful without the athletes doing what they do.  In order to sell out the stadiums and arenas the athletes have to play.

In this day in age, with all the money that these athletes make it’s amazing that they would even put themselves in the position to be arrested. Hiring a driver for the night, calling a cab,coach or teammate seems like a much smarter way to stay out of the papers. A role model should earn that title both on and off field/court.