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App to offer players a safe ride

The SportsXchange

The NFL Players' Association is giving its members a tool designed to keep them from drinking and driving.

Players will be able to use a smartphone app developed by Uber Technologies to request a ride that will arrive in minutes in 17 of 31 NFL cities and in Honolulu, where the Pro Bowl is played.

The union said in a statement that it wants to ensures "its members have access to safe, discreet and professional transportation when they need it."

The service will be available starting this month. Personalized key-chain cards with ride credits will be given to every active NFL player.

"We're working to educate city governments that this reduces drunk driving and gets people out of their cars," Travis Kalanick, chief executive of Uber and a co-founder, told The New York Times. "Sometimes, pro players' lives are unscheduled, and that's where Uber can be helpful."

NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said the union is concerned about player and community safety and wants to avoid situations such as the crash that killed Cowboys linebacker Jerry Brown in a car driven by teammate Josh Brent last year.

"The goal for us is to change behavior," Smith said. "You have increased enforcement, increased penalties. Obviously last year, we had a tragic accident in Texas.

"When you start off looking at this, there are dramatic penalties, above what the commissioner can impose on the National Football League. People can be thrown in jail. Anytime you look at changing behavior on a large scale, the only way to change behavior is to use a myriad of vehicles to change that behavior. The partnership with Uber provides players with that quick access to great transportation, but the goal was to look at all the ways we can act to change behavior."
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