SOURCE: Michael McCarthy, USA Today
The NFL will try to crack down on binge drinking by fans at games during the 2009 season.
Following up on the Fan Code of Conduct it implemented last season, the league office is making recommendations to teams about maximum serving sizes for beer, wine and spirits sold at games and about the number of alcoholic drinks a customer can purchase at one time.
The league also is recommending that its 32 teams and 31 stadiums limit tailgating to 3½ hours before games and attempt to better monitor and enforce rules against excessive drinking in stadium parking lots.
The NFL would like teams to limit customers to no more than two 20-ounce beers, two 6-ounce servings of wine or two 1½-ounce servings of liquor per transaction, Milt Ahlerich, the league's senior vice president of security, told USA TODAY on Thursday. More than 17 million fans attended regular-season games in 2008.
"You don't have to buy two (beers). If you want to buy one, you can buy one. But you can't buy four is our recommendation," Ahlerich said.
Some teams sold 24- and 28-ounce beers last season, said Jeffrey Miller, the NFL's director of strategic security programs. Others allowed fans to buy an armful of beers at once. Under the new recommendations, some teams may opt to sell one 24-ounce beer per transaction rather than two 20-ounce cups.
To promote responsible drinking, the league also will have the message "Fans don't let fans drive drunk" printed on nearly every beer cup this season.
Teams also will try to sign up a combined total of 200,000 designated-driver fans this season vs. 140,000 last season. Fans who sign up receive free soft drinks and a chance to win Super Bowl tickets.
To help with security in parking lots, some teams might post signs displaying text-message lines fans can contact to report abusive tailgaters, Miller said.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell recently suspended Donte' Stallworth for the 2009 season after the Cleveland Browns wide receiver pleaded guilty to killing a pedestrian in Florida while driving under the influence.