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BTA leader calls out UO football players' dangerous driving record

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on March 6th, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Rob Sadowsky-1
Rob Sadowsky
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

University of Oregon players are on a roll when it comes to football victories; but they're also racking up quite a few traffic violations. And we're not talking about minor stuff like parking tickets and rolling a stop sign.

Fed up with the dangerous driving, the executive director of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) had a letter published in The Oregonian today calling on UO to "take action now."

Here's why Sadowsky is so concerned...

"The University of Oregon has a serious problem on its hands, and if it doesn't get a handle of this crisis now, someone is going to die."

Back in April of last year, running-back Kenjon Barner was pulled over and cited by the Oregon State Police for going 85 in a 65 mph zone.

Two months later, All-American cornerback Cliff Harris was pulled over after police clocked him going 118 mph in a rental car. His driver's license was suspended at the time.

Then in October, Harris was pulled over again and cited by the Eugene PD for three violations: driving with a suspended license; driving while uninsured; and failure to wear a seatbelt. Harris paid more than $8,000 in outstanding traffic fines, missed one football game, and was back on the field one week later.

Then on Saturday morning, another UO football player, wide-receiver Josh Huff, was cited for DUII, speeding, and driving without a license.

The BTA's Sadowsky has put road safety at the top of the organization's priorities. In his letter published by The Oregonian today, he says UO has "a serious problem on its hands." Below is the full text of his letter (emphasis mine):

Discipline these Ducks
I am writing in response to the article "Josh Huff cited for DUII, speeding" (March 4), about the Oregon Ducks wide receiver. The University of Oregon has a serious problem on its hands, and if it doesn't get a handle of this crisis now, someone is going to die. Players on the football team have been stopped for traffic violations that are serious in nature. This has included speeding, driving without a license or insurance, and driving under the influence.

The news is brought to us as bitter and disappointing for the football team, but this fails to address the seriousness of the violations. The lives of innocent residents are at stake. If someone gets injured by a motorist who is uninsured, he or she is likely to face astronomical medical expenses with no reimbursement.

The Bicycle Transportation Alliance calls on the University of Oregon to take action now. Punishment must be strong and clear that the university will not tolerate putting people at risk. These are crimes that need to be dealt with clearly. The next time could be someone's life.

We'll keep you posted if UO responds.

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Comments
  • Andrew Seger March 6, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    Really looking forward to the BTA taking a courageous stand and highlighting out Jefferson Smith's crummy driving record.

    Recommended Thumb up 11

  • John R. March 6, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    Hmm. What I'm hearing from the BTA lately: helmets and getting upset about U of O football players and their driving.

    Recommended Thumb up 9

  • Dave March 6, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    Yawn. Mr. Harris has been kicked off the football team, we'll see what fate awaits Mr. Huff. But 2/100 football players getting tickets, while not okay, is not out of line with the numbers of overall college students. Meanwhile, OSU has had two high profile traffic incidents this offseason, and Mr. Sadowsky remains mum on that. I think this has more to do with getting BTA in the news than it does having any actual point.

    Recommended Thumb up 13

  • Paul Hanrahan March 6, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    Driving safely is indeed a serious concern. However, I think Mr. Sadowsky is missing the elephant in the room. I see liteally dozens of people a day driving with cell phones up to their heads. I would ask that the BTA pursue this issue with the Oregon political and law enforcement group. This poses a far greater threat to public safety than a few football players.

    Recommended Thumb up 21

    • rain bike March 6, 2012 at 2:32 pm

      Enforce or repeal. I prefer the former. Unenforced laws only encourage the view that all laws are situational and negotiable.

      Recommended Thumb up 10

    • wsbob March 7, 2012 at 8:58 am

      Attention to commonplace cell phone using drivers is important, but to many people, football players and other large and small status celebrity types, are role models. Some people aspire to be like these spoiled *%$(#% that seem to feel entitled to drive a car 118mph on a public road. That's not good, so it's fine for BTA's Sadowsky to say something about the situation.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Jeremy Cohen March 6, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    It seems like Rob's letter was in response to an article in the paper about a UofO player (thus the reason the letter was not about OSU). What puzzles me is that the opportunity was missed to link the very real injury that former UofO footballer Joey Harrington suffered from getting hit by a car. Maybe if the UofO football program realized one of the VERY few players who ever make it to the next level was hit by a careless/dangerous driver they would think about taking more action. If nothing else, they should have Joey come on down and wag his finger!

    Recommended Thumb up 10

  • Babygorilla March 6, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    Andrew Seger
    Really looking forward to the BTA taking a courageous stand and highlighting out Jefferson Smith's crummy driving record.
    Recommended 2

    Don't hold your breath.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

  • oliver March 6, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    How does a student just cough up eight grand for traffic violations? I guess this kid isn't living on ramen.

    Recommended Thumb up 8

  • harvey March 6, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    This story has nothing to do with bicycles other than a person associated with bicycling wrote the article.

    Sure, drunk driving, talking on cell phones, putting on your makeup (especially you portlandia boys who wear eyeliner!), road rage and other forms of distracted are a risk to everyone around them, including bicyclists.

    These kids do not do these things because they play for a high profile football team, they do it because they are kids, kids do stupid stuff. To single them out as some sort of evil that must me paraded through town in stocks while we throw rotten vegetables at them seems a bit extreme and rather silly.

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  • dj March 6, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    I live in Eugenes neighbor to the north and another university town, Corvallis. Reckless driving IS serious here. People (college kids) do drive fast and it is dangerous. Additionally, the football players are idols not only to other students but to the fans in the community as well. Acknowledging but failing to respond appropriately to reckless driving will put community members in danger eventually especially when others mimic them. I think it is smart of Sadowsky to bring this up. I think about it every night when the same cars speed down my residential street going well over the speed limit. Hopefully something will come of it that will make other road users feel safer.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

  • Tourbiker March 7, 2012 at 3:15 am

    Roid Rage?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • J.M. Jones March 7, 2012 at 8:39 am

    INTERESTING, but would rather see articles about getting HPV riders to follow the existing rules of the road. I note some of the riders simply have the same attitude as the ball players do. They feel that the laws are for others to follow.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

  • Maks March 7, 2012 at 11:23 am

    how did someone get a rental car if their license is suspended? unless the license was suspended DUE to the violation? if its the former, this 'celebrity' thing is getting way out of hand.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Jeff P March 7, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    So in essence they have been cited and fined within the laws of the state. Now there is a motion to have the school/athletic department fine them as well. Let's compare that to a persons EMPLOYER fining an employee for their behavior outside work....reasonable?

    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • rain bike March 7, 2012 at 1:10 pm

      You can compare, but this is a different situation. These guys are (likely) on scholarship and I don't think that kind of support comes without strings attached. I would not be surprised if there were terms and conditions relating to activities off the field and fines for violating those terms and conditions.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

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