NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sent out another strong message Thursday that he won't tolerate bad off-the-field behavior when he suspended Cleveland Browns receiver Donte Stallworth for the entire season without pay.
Stallworth was suspended for violating both the league's substance-abuse policy and the personal-conduct policy after pleading guilty to DUI manslaughter resulting from his killing a man while driving under the inlfuence on March 14.
Stallworth met with the commissioner twice, once this week, and had hoped to get off with a lesser suspension. But Goodell is quickly becoming like the judge nobody wants to see in court.
He throws the book at these guys.
Come to think of it, his penalty is worse than what Stallworth got in real court, which was 30 days in jail, for which he served less than a week.
In a release sent out by the league, Goodell was quoted as saying,"As you recognized both at and following the hearing, guilt or innocence as a matter of criminal law is not the same as a violation of NFL policies. Here, longstanding league policies make clear that discipline is warranted “if a player is convicted of or admits to a violation of the law…relating to the use of alcohol.” The degree of discipline may take into account “aggravating circumstances, including but not limited to felonious conduct or felonious injury or death of third parties…” All of those factors are present here. There is no question that your actions had tragic consequences to an innocent man and his family, and that you have violated both the Substances of Abuse and Personal Conduct Policies. In that respect, you are clearly guilty of conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the NFL.”
Goodell really had no choice but to go strong with discipline, even though Stallworth has truly been remorseful.
When St. Louis Rams defensive end Leonard Little killed a woman in a drunk-driving accident in 1998, he was suspended by then-commissioner Paul Tagliabue for eight games.
It's clear that Goodell is much tougher than his predecessor when it comes to handing out suspensions, which is message all NFL players need to understand.