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Remarks on Cowboys' ride service hit on hidden issue

Every NFL player has access to an NFL Players Association program that provides rides to and from establishments where alcohol may be consumed. They can use the "Player Transportation Link" for dinner with the wife or to a ballgame with friends -- even when they don't plan to drink. That's why situations like the Josh Brent crash are so maddening: All players have to do is pick up a phone.

Jerry Jones said the Dallas Cowboys offer a program that goes beyond the services provided by the league.

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"We have two limo services on stand-by and a full-time staff person on-call 24 hours, seven days a week to pick up players," Jones told USA TODAY Sports on Thursday. "That person has been called seven times this year."

Jones unintentionally brought up the issue with those options. The policy for the NFLPA program is that all calls are kept confidential. The team isn't supposed to receive reports on who uses the services, when or why. Players are concerned coaches or executives will find out and hold it against them.

Jones' own program doesn't fall under those guidelines, but his knowing exactly how many times the service has been used doesn't exactly dissuade those concerns about the Player Transportation Link. And it's not just for those who have been over-served. Some players use it as a taxi service, even if they're not drinking.

There's never an excuse to drive intoxicated, more so when a ride is easily accessible. But Jones' statement gives some insight as to why more players don't use the option.

Follow Kareem Copeland on Twitter @kareemcopeland.

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