For the third consecutive season, the New England Patriots are the NFL leaders in designated driver pledges.
Nearly 22,000 fans in the stands at Gillette Stadium pledged to be designated drivers during the 2012 season, ensuring families and friends a safe ride to and from Patriots games this season. The Patriots again finished the season in the top spot among all NFL teams after first doing so in 2010 and then breaking a single-season NFL record for pledges with 23,000 in 2011.
"We set a goal about four years ago to be the leader in the NFL in this program," said Jim Nolan, New England Patriots Senior Vice President of Operations, Finance and Administration. "We saw that we were a leader in a ton of areas but not this and we said, 'Why not?' ... We encourage people to sign up and make the pledge and the pledge is to be a designated driver, to never provide alcohol to minors and wear a seatbelt all the time."
Three years ago, the Patriots beat the Baltimore Ravens in amount of designated driver signups to become the leader of the NFL ... a title the franchise will carry with them for a third consecutive year.
"We really put a lot of emphasis behind the program," Nolan said. ... "The most important thing for us is that people get home safely from any event that we do. The designated driver program is an important piece of it. Any time someone signs up to be a designated driver we know they are taking people home safely."
In 2009, the New England Patriots, the New England Revolution, Gillette Stadium, the Ensign John R. Elliott HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers and TEAM Coalition came together to educate fans about the importance of using a designated driver, buckling up and demonstrating positive fan behavior.
The message is simple: “Be a HERO, Be a Designated Driver.”
“We’re proud that Patriots fans recognize the monumental importance of safe and responsible behavior both inside the stadium and on the roads,” said Nolan. “This year we expanded the program to include many of the restaurants at Patriot Place, and we hope to grow the program in future seasons.”
Patriots fans who pledged and demonstrated responsible behavior at any Patriots game throughout the season received a complimentary soft drink, a “Be a Hero” wristband, pro shop discounts and a chance to be selected as the Designated Driver for the Game. Each week, the Designated Driver for the Game from the previous home game was recognized with a pregame visit on the field.
At the Dec. 30 regular season finale against the Miami Dolphins, the Patriots recognized Richard S. Corsini of Townsend as the Patriots’ Designated Driver of the Year. Corsini was joined for a pregame ceremony on the Gillette Stadium field by Patriots Chairman & CEO Robert Kraft, Nolan, Dick Farley of NFL Security, Foxborough Police Chief Edward O’Leary, Massachusetts State Police Lieutenant Jeff Stuart, Patriot Place General Manager Brian Earley, Morgan Holleran of TEAM Coalition and representatives from Be a Hero Campaign, as well as many of the owners and managers of participating Patriot Place restaurants.
"It’s a great program supported by Foxborough Police Chief Edward O’Leary, Lt. Stewart as well as the NFL. It’s really important," Nolan said.
Bill Elliott, chairman of the HERO campaign, said he was proud of the partnership with the New England Patriots and its commitment to getting fans home safely.
“The HERO Campaign is proud to be associated with the New England Patriots, Gillette Stadium and our partners in promoting the use of designated drivers in memory of our son John,” said Elliott. “A designated driver is truly a hero by keeping others safe on the way home after the game. Our goal is to register a million designated drivers nationwide and make the use of designated drivers as automatic as wearing a seatbelt.”
If the Patriots advance to Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans, Corsini will attend the game as the grand prize winner of the sweepstakes component of the "Responsibility Has Its Rewards" campaign, a league-wide effort supporting designated-driver programs with all 32 NFL teams.
“Fans who pledge to be designated drivers are critical to the success of the Responsibility Has Its Rewards campaign,” said Jill Pepper, executive director of TEAM Coalition. “Teamwork is exactly what this campaign is all about. Through this program, we are demonstrating that when everyone – including the fans – takes responsibility, everyone wins.”
The designated-driver program is just one component of the fan behavior initiatives offered by the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Other components include:
- A Fan Code of Conduct posted in and around Gillette Stadium
- Text messaging (text “CONDUCT” + message to 78247) that empowers fans to anonymously report disruptive behavior to security
- Certification of over 1,700 employees across every department operating in Gillette Stadium in effective alcohol management training
- Alcohol service policies, including ID checks for all fans, no more than two alcoholic beverages per person per transaction and alcohol cut-off 15 minutes into the third quarter
"It’s important to all of us and by working together it helps us get fans home safely, which at the end of the day is my most important job," Nolan said. "My success is when people come here, enjoy themselves and then get home. It’s not what happens on the field."