Today NFL Commissioner released a statement saying that Browns wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth would be suspended without pay for the entire 2009 season. This suspension comes after Stallworth pleaded guilty to DUI manslaughter in the February death of Mario Reyes. In a much awaited decision by the commish, I must say that I am not surprised and frankly fairly pleased at the decision. Goodell was quoted as saying; “I believe that further consequences are necessary.”
In what players are now calling the “No Fun League” I don’t think that many people will have problem with this suspension. Though I believe there are many flaws in our nations legal system, the Stallworth case brought the biggest one to our eyes. Money may not be able to buy happiness, but it sure can keep you out of jail. Even though kept private, my sources have told me that the monetary compensation to Reyes’ family was somewhere in the 10 to 15 million dollar range. No, I do not have that kind of money, but even if I did I have to think I would go to jail longer than 24 days for killing a man.
Let not forget that in addition to killing Mr. Reyes, Stallworth was also well over the legal limit for alcohol and Marijuana was found in his system. Not that I would know, but having marijuana in his system does not mean he was high at the time of the accident. Marijuana can stay in your system for up to a month depending on metabolism and frequency of ingesting the drug. Something that probably did not play into the sentencing process of the Judge, but most certainly played a part in Goodell’s decision to suspend the wide receiver.
One thing I have heard a lot of NFL and ESPN reporters talk about is the consistent back hand of Roger Goodell. This is something I really don’t agree with at all. Sure, if you want to talk about Goodell suspending players when they have legal troubles then fine; but don’t tell me that the suspensions have all held the same weight. This may cause some tension but throwing out names like Adam Jones, Tank Johnson, Matt Jones, and Michael Vick show the inconsistent right hand of the commish. In the names I just listed you have charges like attempted murder, drug trafficking, gun possession, and dog fighting. None nearly as bad as murder, and while some have only lived as accusations not actual charges the suspensions of these players have more then tripled that of Stallworths.
Roger Goodell has always said he would let the legal process play itself out before making any decision on suspension. To me though, Goodell has always made a decision about suspending players before their trials. Perfect example; say that Michael Vick was able to pay the dogs’ family (I know I know but just hypothetically saying) a good amount of money and only recieved 24 days in jail. Do you think that after that jail time Goodell would have suspended the quarterback for 2 years and 6 games without pay? I don’t think so.
I do not agree with a lot of Goodell’s suspensions, but I think that Stallworth’s is right on. As much as I can complain about it the legal system is what it is. All I know is that the struggling father of 2 that made one bad decision and now is sitting in a cell for 5 to 10 on the same charges as Stallworth, really got the raw end of the deal. Finally, as much as we see athletes deny and blame and go on the offensive when something like this happens, Stallworth stood up from day 1 and took full responsibility for his actions. I hope that he takes this year off to reflect on his life, make better decisions, and comes back to the NFL the same athlete but a better man.