SAN FRANCISCO (PRNewswire-USNewswire) — The NFL's Roger Goodell has yet to show any understanding that alcohol use by players is a major cause of domestic violence, child abuse, arrests and even suicide and homicide. Though he has shown progress in recognizing that domestic violence is a serious problem, he and the sport's biggest sponsor — Anheuser-Busch InBev — continue to blame individual behavior as the cause. What they continue to ignore is the influence of the complete saturation of the NFL with alcohol sponsorships of teams, stadium advertising, tailgating, beverage sales and TV broadcast of games, especially the big one in February.
Anheuser-Busch InBev distanced itself from Rodger Goodell and the NFL on Tuesday, September 17, 2014 with a hypocritical statement of concern over "…the league's handling of behaviors that so clearly go against our own culture and moral code."
"Anheuser-Busch InBev, with it's half-a-billion a year budget for alcohol ads, team branding, and sports association sponsorships, heavily contributes to a culture of excessive consumption among players, fans and viewers at home," stated Michael Scippa, Director of Public Affairs for Alcohol Justice. "To deny any responsibility in the wake of the NFL's problems, or the massive alcohol-related harms their products cause to the public, is just ludicrous."
Even the Daily Show, disturbingly infused with alcohol advertising of its own, which many youth watch, exposed the irony of AB InBev's statement. Isn't AB InBev's chief "culture and moral code" to sell more beer for fans to consume at stadiums, tailgating parties, sports bars and at their homes? And then they solely place blame on players if they are abusive and destructive while under the influence?
Sometimes tragic accounts in the press covering player behavior in the last few years have too often cited excessive alcohol consumption as a cause of DUIs and auto accidents, a girlfriend homicide followed by suicide after a night of drinking, and incidents of domestic abuse and youth endangerment. This is not surprising, as the Centers for Disease control and prevention list alcohol as a major contributor to motor vehicle death and harm, suicides and homicides, and a contributor to child endangerment.
Throughout the year, sports-related alcohol over-consumption leads directly to tens of thousands of incidents of alcohol-related violence and harm. In the stands, in the tailgating parking lots, in bars and restaurants, in people's homes and on the roads connecting all, the tragedy of alcohol misuse grows, like a metastasizing cancer.
"Alcohol in big sports is big business and very harmful to society, its youth, public health and safety," stated Alcohol Justice's Executive Director/CEO Bruce Lee Livingston. "AB InBev CEO Carlos Brito can declare all day long that the problem is the NFL's, but both the NFL and the beer barons need to back away from advertising and team sponsorships. They need to help players recover from the seductive and lucrative culture of drinking that surrounds and infuses the NFL. Goodell needs to institute alcohol policies on advertising, beverage sales, tailgating, and player consumption. Most importantly Goodell needs to acknowledge that prevention of domestic abuse and player violence off the field has to begin with the end of the NFL's promotion of alcohol."
Research has shown that the more alcohol ads seen, the more likely people are to drink, drink to excess, and drink more often. This is especially true for children. In 2009, the Surgeon General's Call to Action to Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking reported that 5,000 people under age 21 die annually from alcohol-related injuries. Hundreds of thousands more suffer alcohol-fueled sexual assaults, serious injuries, diseases, and academic failure. How many of these incidents of harm have been influenced by aggressive and excessive alcohol advertising during sporting events?
Here are some tragic recent examples of alcohol-fueled incidents of harm involving NFL players:
- Paul Oliver (29 year old former San Diego Charger) committed suicide in front of his family after drinking September 24, 2013.
- Jovan Belcher (Kansas City Chiefs) killed his baby's mother and then himself at the stadium practice after drinking December 1, 2012. Five police didn't test him for alcohol at 3:05 am and fail to haul him in just hours before the murder. (Video here.
- Said TMZ Sports, "Ray Rice says hard liquor was the fuel that triggered his elevator rage and he hasn't touched the stuff in months…Rice told the Baltimore Ravens he and Janay Palmer had been drinking HEAVILY before the altercation. Rice is telling friends he becomes a different person when he boozes it up ... so he's changed his life. But he hasn't changed that much, because we're told he still drinks wine ... just not hard liquor. (Read more here.)
- Aldon Smith, San Francisco 49ers linebacker, received 12 days jail time for DUI and was allegedly drunk when shooting off guns at his own house party that led to felony charges.
- Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings Running Back, was arrested Sept. 7, 2012 for resisting arrest while heavily intoxicated. (We have no report of alcohol before his incidences of child abuse.)
- Greg Hardy, Carolina Panthers pass rusher, admitted to drinking champagne before a domestic violence incident and was ordered to attend alcoholics meetings.
These are unfortunately just a few of the alcohol-related incidents involving sports personalities in the last few years. Professor Harry Edwards, a sports sociologist and consultant to the NFL, was quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle September 13, 2014, saying, "The No. 1 factor in domestic violence is not the sport, it's not steroids, it's not amphetamines - it's alcohol. That's been my experience."
"In the NFL culture of game aggression and beer marketing, the players alone can't be blamed for alcohol abuse, binge drinking and addiction that leads to domestic violence, homicide, suicides and traffic collisions," added Livingston. "We demand the NFL and sports' biggest beer sponsors Budweiser and Coors educate on the harms and dangers of alcohol, get advertising and overconsumption out of the game, and recognize moderation and (horror of horrors) abstinence as legitimate choices for players and fans."