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NFLPA running new version of 'Safe Rides' program

  • By Brian McIntyre NFL.com
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Four NFL players have been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol in the past two weeks.

Detroit Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley was nabbed in Mobile, Ala., then Minnesota Vikings fullback Jerome Felton got in trouble while going through a McDonald's drive-thru, and Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Justin Blackmon, the fifth overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, was arrested in Stillwater, Okla.

And New York Giants offensive guard David Diehl was arrested in New York on Sunday for driving while intoxicated.

In light of these arrests comes a report from Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com that the "Safe Rides" program, which was made available to players who needed transportation home, was shut down.

But that's only half of the story. The NFL Players Association, which runs the program, replaced the service with a different program in 2009, NFLPA Director of Security Tim Christine told NFL.com on Sunday.

The earlier program was replaced because it wasn't available in all NFL cities and the response time was too slow, Christine said.

"The feedback was less than satisfactory," Christine said of the first service, adding that the new program receives some 65 calls per month.

The program is run by a private investigation firm and is available to players anywhere in the United States and Canada, Christine said.

Players also pay $85 per hour for the service, which has its phone number on the back of every union card.

The NFL handed the reins of the older program over to the union in 2009 after concerns were expressed that teams would use the service to gather information about players' private lives.

Some teams continue to maintain their own versions of a "safe rides" program for their players, but the issue of privacy, not to mention the impaired judgment caused by drinking, likely prevents players from taking advantage of them.

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