FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – For the fourth consecutive season, the New England Patriots have been recognized by TEAM Coalition as the top team in the NFL for designated driver pledges.
Throughout the 2013 season, nearly 20,000 fans in the stands at Gillette Stadium pledged to be designated drivers and ensure a safe ride home from the game for friends and family. The Patriots again finished the season in the top spot among all NFL teams after finishing first in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Starting 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."
New this season, Arbella Insurance Foundation joined the other organizations as a proud partner of the designated driver program at Gillette Stadium.
"We're proud that Patriots fans recognize the monumental importance of safe and responsible behavior both inside the stadium and on the roads," said Jim Nolan, New England Patriots Senior Vice President of Operations, Finance and Administration. "This year, we expanded the program to include many of the restaurants at Patriot Place. We are excited to have the Arbella Insurance Foundation join us as the presenting sponsor for the "Be a Hero" designated driver program at Gillette Stadium to promote responsible driving. We look forward to growing the program with them in future seasons."
"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 Bill Elliott, Chairman of the HERO Campaign. "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." The HERO Campaign and the Patriots also teamed up in October for the first HERO Walk at Gillette Stadium. The event attracted 800 supporters, including students from area high schools and colleges, to promote the designated driving campaign.
"Arbella's Foundation has long been committed to promoting safe driving," said John Donohue, chairman, president and CEO of the Arbella Insurance Group, and chairman and president of the Arbella Insurance Foundation. "That's why we're proud to partner with the Patriots in their efforts to keep fans safe behind the wheel. We want everyone to be able to enjoy a game at Gillette and get home safely."
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 December 29 regular season finale against the Buffalo Bills, the Patriots recognized Jody Cloutier as the Patriots' Designated Driver of the Year. Cloutier was joined for a pregame ceremony on the field by Patriots Chairman & CEO Robert Kraft, Nolan, Dick Farley of NFL Security, Chief Ed O'Leary of the Foxborough Police, Lieutenant Jeff Stuart of the Massachusetts State Police, Erin McGuirk from The HERO Campaign, Gayle O'Connell from Arbella Insurance Foundation and Christy Verbosky of TEAM Coalition.
If the Patriots advance to Super Bowl XLVIII in New York, Cloutier 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 600 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 at 15 minutes into the third quarter