The ruling is out on Dante Stallworth. He has been suspended for the entire 2009 NFL season without pay. I do not usually side with those that drink and drive, but I have a problem with how Goodell spoke about his decision. I like that he is trying to instill a no tolerance stance on crimes committed by players and for when they break the League's rules on conduct. I understand that, and I agree with it. However, in his letter to Stallworth, Goodell made some remarks that rubbed me the wrong way. I understand that his poor decision resulted in the death of a person, but the conduct in which Dante conducted himself throughout the entire process (from initially calling the cops after the accident, his full cooperation with the law, and his remorseful demeanor during the whole ordeal) makes him less of a "stain on the players reputations" than some of the other offendors in recent history.
I know that comparing Michael Vick, Plaxico Burress, Chis Henry and Adam Jones is like comparing apples to oranges when it comes to the individual cases. However, one can draw conclusions on the precedent that is being set by the NFL on its decisions on how to punish those that viloate the League's rules of conduct. What are the odds that there will be another NFL player who will be caught running a dog fighting syndocate? Or a player shooting himself in the leg in a club? Not likely. What about people like Chris Henry that are repeat offendors? His last offense was in April of this year, where he was arrested for punching an eighteen year old in the face, and breaking a car window out with a beer bottle. He has been arrested roughly five times or so over the last four years. I argue that that kind of conduct is what makes the NFL look bad. Chris Henry is not remorseful for his actions. At least, he does not appear to be. He is the headliner for those making the Bengals look like a bunch of thugs. It's a running joke. I understand that people make mistakes, but my arguement is that players like Henry are far worse for the NFL's reputation than Stallworth.
The Raiders and Bengals have long had reputations for harboring thugs on their rosters. These repeat offendors show zero remorse and no signs of turning their lives around. Therefore, the general public, for the most part, shows zero remorse for their punishments. Why do they get so many chances and at the same time get punished very little for their actions? Dante Stallworth had a clean police report until the DUI incident. He behaved very professionally, without seeming like he was coached what to say (even though he probably was) during the aftermath. Players that do not have a history of legal issues are less of a stain on the NFL's reputation hen they get in trouble than those that are in the news multiple times during their careers. For example, during his rookie year in 1998 Leonard Little hit and killed a pedestrian while driving drunk. He had an eight game suspension from the League. That was eleven years ago, and how many people remember that even happening? People remember the reputations of teams that continually sign repeat offendors. People remember when a player is mentioned in the news seemingly every year for some illegal activity or violation of team/league conduct codes. People will not soon forget Buress shooting himself and Vick fighting dogs and laundering money. Any fan of the AFC North will not forget seeing Henry's name in the news every year for doing something stupid.
So, Stallworth has a year off without pay to think about what he did. Maybe that is fair considering the circumstances. What would the NFL look like if he had a small suspension and fine after killing a man while driving drunk? Maybe what isn't fair is how easy the repeat offendors get off. Everyone you ask will say that playing in the NFL is a privilege. If the NFL is really committed to polishing its image, then why are there so many second chances? Why are the fines so minimal? The little violations that keep surfacing by the same players are what really put a stain on the reputations of the players, coaches, owners and league officials. When those players serve their minimal suspensions, they are right back on the field acting like nothing every happened to them--a slap on the wrist by the NFL. Maybe Stallworth should never be allowed back in the league. Then again, maybe Vick, Burress, and Henry should not be allowed to return either. After all, it is a privilige.