At the risk of getting lynched, I want to point out that the Commissioner’s decision to suspend Cleveland Browns receiver Donte Stallworth for an indefinite period (at least one year) as a result of his DUI manslaughter conviction is inconsistent with prior rulings by Goodell. It is obviously an attempt to compensate for what he believes (along with many others) was too light of a sentence imposed in Criminal Court (which of course is an improper consideration to begin with).
Take Cincinnati Bengal Odell Thurman as just one example. In 2006, Odell was suspended for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. The penalty was four games. Fair enough. Strike one. While the subject of that suspension, Odell was charged with DUI. Unlike Stallworth, Thurman did not plead guilty to the charge; he pleaded no contest (there is a material difference in terms of acceptance of responsibility). Strike two. In June 2007, Thurman was involved in a skirmish in Georgia which resulted in him being wanted and charged by the police for assault. The charge was dropped as a civil settlement was reached, however, there was never any doubt that Odell had engaged in conduct that violated the NFL’s policy. Strike three. In July 2008, Thurman was indicted for breaking a man’s jaw in Ohio. The matter was later dismissed because of insufficient evidence. So we will not call that strike four, however, one has to wonder just how unlucky one person can be.
So, after all of the above, what did the Commish do at the beginning of 2008? Goodell cleared Odell for reinstatement. Goodell officially reinstated Thurman in April 2008, although Odell was waived by the Bengals the next month. In June 2008, Thurman failed another drug test. Only then did Goodell suspend him “indefinitely”. As this is being written, Odell can apply for reinstatement again.
So Roger Goodell has imposed upon Donte Stallworth the same penalty (indefinite suspension) that he imposed upon Thurman. Stallworth hit and killed a man while driving drunk – terrible, criminal conduct. But it was one incident of violating the NFL conduct policy – one incident for which Stallworth pleaded guilty very early and was sentenced in a Court of law. Thurman, on the other hand, has violated the League’s substance abuse policy twice, has been convicted of DUI (while on suspension) and has been charged criminally two other times for violent offences (again, while on suspension).
Hey Roger: a little consistency, please.