FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The New England Patriots were recognized at Sunday's game for setting a new record this season, a record with life-saving consequences that extend far beyond the end of the game.
More than 23,000 fans in the stands at Gillette Stadium this season pledged to be designated drivers and ensured a safe ride home from the game for friends and family. The Patriots finished the season in the top spot for the second consecutive season in terms of designated drivers among all NFL teams and set the single-season NFL record for pledges.
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." The response from Patriots fans continues to be massive.
"Patriots games should always be a fun and safe environment for our fans, whether inside the stadium or driving home afterward," said Jim Nolan, New England Patriots Senior Vice President of Operations, Finance and Administration. "We are thrilled by how many of our fans embraced this program throughout the season."
"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."
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 ceremony on the field.
At Sunday's game, Jill Pepper, executive director of TEAM Coalition and Bill and Muriel Elliott, founders of the HERO Campaign, presented the award to the Patriots. Following the designated-driver award presentation, the Patriots Designated Driver for the Season - Scott Osterman of North Kingston, R.I. - was recognized as an honorary team captain. Osterman joined the Patriots' captains at the 50-yard line for the pregame coin toss. He also received a commemorative game ball.
Additionally, if the Patriots advance to Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind. on Feb. 5, 2012, Osterman will attend the championship 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. Four additional designated drivers for the season will received an autographed Patriots helmet. At Gillette Stadium this season, there is no doubt that Responsibility Has Its Rewards.
"Fans who pledge to be designated drivers are critical to the success of the Responsibility Has Its Rewards campaign," said Pepper. "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