FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) – It’s a score the Dallas Cowboys would rather not keep track of: two players in six weeks accused in DWI crashes.
First, Josh Brent charged with intoxication manslaughter, in the death of his friend and teammate Jerry Brown. And now, Jay Ratliff.
Erin Patton, a sports marketing expert and former Nike executive, says the negative headlines are giving the Cowboys a public relations problem.
“To happen this close to something this tragic of what happened a few weeks ago, it’s really inconceivable.”
Patton says the Cowboys need to act to try and prevent this from happening again.
“The Cowboys have built tremendous brand equity over the years with a lot of good will. But each of these incidents will have a negative impact on that equity. Ultimately, that affects your sponsors, and clearly, that’s a problem the Cowboys can’t afford to have.”
But how will the Cowboys react?
Kevin Sherrington is a sports columnist for the Dallas Morning News.
He believes Coach Jason Garrett has tried, but failed to change the culture at Valley Ranch.
Sherrington says, “The players all know that Jerry is in charge. They can go over Jason’s head if they need to, and he pretty much sanctions everything they do. They get in a little bit of trouble, but not enough.”
As for fans, those we spoke with, say they’re disappointed in Ratliff, but don’t believe the incident tarnishes the Cowboys’ image.
Spencer Petersen says, “Everyone makes their own decisions. Obviously, Jerry and Coach Garrett probably don’t want these guys out making poor decisions like this.”
Andy Jankowski says, “Their perception might be a little messed up now with this second story coming out, I don’t think there’s a pr issue with them.”
They both agree the team needs to provide players further education on the dangers of alcohol and drinking and driving.
The Cowboys may be ready to do just that.
Irving-based Mothers Against Drunk Driving says it may soon expand its partnership with the team.
The organization already encourages fans at home games to designate a sober driver if they’re going to drink.
Jeff Miracle, Executive Director of the North Texas office of MADD says, “We are building a relationship with the Cowboys. As a matter of fact, our CEO is going to meet with them after the Super Bowl to discuss more ways to reach out to their players so that events like this don’t happen in the future.”
Miracle says that two teams, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had Mothers Against Drunk Driving send speakers to address their players.
MADD says they’re offering the Cowboys and all other teams to do the same.