Today's post comes directly from my travels. It is also brought to you by Todd Heap and the Campbell's Chunky Soup Curse, which has already reared it's ugly head in the Charm City via the Music City...
One year after the Titans and the State of Tennessee screwed him over by locking him out, Steve McNair was sent another stern message that he is not wanted in Nashville: he was arrested for DUI, while sitting in the passenger seat. This is due to a law in Tennessee that permits the police to arrest the owner of the vehicle for someone driving drunk in their car. So I'll reiterate: Steve McNair was arrested for Driving under the influence when he wasn't driving!
First things first, let's clear up this law. Essentially it acts as a way to prevent people from enabling to drive drunk. The law is that if the owner of vehicle allows another person to drive their vehicle while under the influence, then the owner is liable for the DUI as well. It seems like a good law, because it prevents people from enabling others to drive drunk by holding them accountable. Unfortunately, it came back and bit us in the ass.
McNair was allowing his brother-in-law to drive the vehicle, and the moron apparently went too fast or too reckless and drew the ire of the police (you have to hate an idiot brother-in-law). The brother-in-law then failed a field sobriety test, and when it was discovered that the vehicle belonged to McNair, they were both arrested and charged with DUI. They were both released this morning, just in time for everyone to wake up and hear the great news.
OK, I understand where both were in the wrong. McNair allowed his brother-in-law to drive the vehicle under the influence (after two drinks... lightweight), which is against the law in Nashville. The brother-in-law was in the wrong for driving unsafely while apparently under the influence. But it just seems weird to charge McNair for DUI, and he wasn't D. They should charge him with Enabling, or Allowance, or Being a Passenger Under the Influence. DUI just paints a horrible picture of what actually happened.
It's now in the NFL's hands to figure out if this merits any punishment. I am firmly of the camp that it should not, because, quoth McNair, "I was trying to act responsibly. I have to go through the court process now, and I understand that". McNair knows he technically broke the law, but it was because he was most likely more drunk than his brother-in-law. He figured it would be better to let his less drunk brother-in-law drive, which in theory sets a good example. He is saying "Let other people drive when you're drunk"; he just needs to add a caveat at the end: just make sure they're not drunk too.
The story was a real big deal in Baltimore, I'm sure, but it was also a big deal down here in Nashville. When a service guy at a Dodge dealership in Nashville (exceptionally long story) noticed my and my party's Ravens apparel, he said he couldn't believe McNair was arrested, but also thought it was absurd to charge him with DUI. Nashvillians (Nashvillites? Nashvillains? Nashtrash?) still love McNair for all the great things he did for the Titans and the city, but also realize that he is not above the fundamentally sound albeit slightly odd law.
The NFL knows McNair is a great guy and was not trying to intentionally hurt himself or anybody else. This story seems bigger than it really is, however, in the wake of Josh Hancock's death. In the week when baseball teams are taking alcohol out of their locker rooms in an attempt to curb drinking and driving, McNair really could not have had worse timing. All in all, I blame it on Todd Heap and his Soup friends.