Most NFL teams have safe rides program

Posted Sept. 24, 2010, at 5:30 p.m.
Last modified Sept. 24, 2010, at 6:26 p.m.

NEW YORK — New York Jets receiver Braylon Edwards could have avoided arrest for driving drunk earlier this week by taking advantage of two programs designed to give NFL players safe rides when they are too impaired to drive.

More than half of the 32 NFL teams, including the Jets, have such programs, which stress confidentiality. The NFL Players Association also has a program, and the league has one for non-players.

The league’s program, Safe Ride Solutions, covers all non-player club employees and NFL employees.

The union’s round-the-clock program, which it took over from the league in 2009 at the NFLPA’s request, is available in all NFL cities and some additional areas. There are no out-of-pocket fees for players except the cost of the ride.

“We wanted to do it for every player,” NFLPA spokesman George Atallah said. “If it overlaps with a team’s program, great.”

The overlapping programs between the union and the Jets — theirs is called PlayerProtect — apparently were ignored by Edwards. He was arraigned on drunken-driving charges Tuesday after a breath test showed he had a blood-alcohol level twice the legal limit when he was stopped on Manhattan’s West Side around 5 a.m., prosecutors said.

PlayerProtect promotes itself as “a 24-hour, full service security and security driving company that caters exclusively to professional athletes. PlayerProtect agents are current or former lawenforcement officers and are authorized to carry their weapons in all 50 states. Security details can also be arranged for locations outside the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area for an additional fee.”

Twenty-one of the 32 teams told The Associated Press they have programs for the players that supplement the union’s coverage.

Chicago Bears spokesman Scott Hagel said in an e-mail to the AP: “My understanding is the NFLPA has a service that accommodates all the NFL teams.”

Neither of the 2010 Super Bowl teams provided information.

Indianapolis Colts spokesman Craig Kelley said, “The club does not typically discuss its programs.” New Orleans Saints spokesman Greg Bensel said, “We don’t talk about programs for employees.”

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