Why are you driving drunk, Minnesota?

If everyone who was convicted of driving under the influence in Minnesota lost his/her job, assuming they were all working, the unemployment rate in Minnesota would start somwhere close to 15%. That’s not how many people in the state drive drunk; that’s how many people have been caught and convicted.

So, much of the state that might be inclined to pick up the pitchforks over the arrest of an assistant coach of the Minnesota Vikings for DUI doesn’t come by the outrage with much moral authority.

“Every situation is different,” head coach Mike Zimmer tells the Star Tribune about why he didn’t fire George Edwards, when, at the same time, he cut practice squad player Isame Faciane for his DUI arrest. “And I really don’t care about being consistent. I care about being right. When this happened with George, George was given a lot of things to do, including a huge monetary commitment that he had to make. And he fulfilled all of his obligations.”

Edwards attended a chemical dependency class and he had to listen to a panel of victims of drunk drivers. Zimmer says he also lost a chunk of a paycheck or, perhaps, two. The incident happened last May.

Zimmer says he cut Faciane because he’d just told his players to stay out of trouble during the bye week.

He could’ve just said that coaches are more important to a team than practice squad players and that would’ve been an acceptable and accurate answer. Much of the debate surrounding the two incidents is why one punishment befell one guy, and another befell the other? That’s not the right question. The right question is: Why are you guys driving drunk?

Football is knee-deep in hypocrisy when it comes to alcohol. Beermakers are major advertisers, teams play up tailgating and drinking, it’s a tremendous source of revenue at the concession stand, and when the game ends, only a fool would deny that a fair number of fans are getting in their cars hammered.

The Pioneer Press broke the story of Edwards’ arrest yesterday. He was stopped in a parking lot of a Taco Bell after failing to signal a turn for the fourth time.

The comment of one fan on the site was classic. “Not condoning DWI but drunk or not people need to start using their signals,” he wrote.

Edwards, who blew a .11, making him a legal drunk, doesn’t have a DWI on his record. He pleaded to a lesser charge.

But Minnesota’s DUI conviction rate speaks for itself and the hypocrisy of tsk-tsk’ing people for getting drunk and jumping in the car isn’t limited to the gridiron.

Like many states in the Upper Midwest, we have a drinking problem in which so many people are picked up for DUI, it seems almost normal. Even a whiskey plate doesn’t shock people anymore; they’re too common.

Firing a coach of a football team might send some sort of message. But how serious can that be when the testimony of grieving family after grieving family after grieving family hasn’t made a dent in that percentage of drivers with a DUI conviction? Many of them say the state is far too lenient on the drunks.

If you think a football coach is too, he’s just fitting in.