(Jarrett Bell) What more can they do? Calvin Hill asks himself that question repeatedly in his role as a consultant for the Dallas Cowboys, with the responsibility of administering off-the-field support programs.
He is searching for more answers, in the wake of the single-car, alcohol-related crash early Saturday that killed practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown and left defensive tackle Josh Brent facing intoxication manslaughter charges.
“Obviously, we do whatever we can do,” Hill said somberly before Sunday’s game at Paul Brown Stadium, alluding to the team’s educational programs. “I don’t know what more we can do. We’re always examining and going over things.”
Hill said the team could mandate that Cowboys players have electronic devices designed to immobilize vehicles when a driver is impaired. The device, SafeKey, includes a small fob that is attached to the key ring, which sends electronic signals to a complementary device that can prevent a vehicle from starting if a driver doesn’t pass a test based on color-coded light emissions.
“We are considering that,” Hill said.
It is unclear whether the NFL Players Association would sign off on allowing teams to mandate such a measure for players. NFLPA officials did not immediately respond to USA TODAY Sports on Sunday.
Nonetheless, Hill is willing to try to do more. He said he was struck by a statistic displayed on a highway billboard recently that said 2,700 people had died on Texas highways this year.
“You wonder how many of those have to do with alcohol,” he said.
Hill applauds the program set in place by the players union that provides rides for players who need transportation after becoming impaired. He said he is unsure what percentage of players use the service, given the confidentiality of the program.
“Everyone has free will and makes their own decisions,” Hill said. “You try to make them aware that every decision has a consequence and that they’re responsible. You hope they consider the potential consequences.”
The NFL has had a partnership with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which include the organization offering programs designed to reduce risks associated with drunk driving. USA TODAY Sports revealed that two teams use MADD’s program for players — the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers — as the program is largely used by teams for strategies in addressing fans.
Asked if the Cowboys would consider using MADD’s program, Hill said that it would duplicate existing programs.
“Obviously, I applaud what MADD does, but every team in the NFL has those type of programs,” Hill said. “Every team presents the consequences.”
As Hill spoke, he was accompanied by Jacqueline Stephens, the team’s mental health specialist. Stephens and at least two other counselors have been available to the players.
“It’s been in the minds of everyone,” Hill said. “It’s tough. For a lot of these guys, the football team is their other family.”