Donte’ Stallworth may have escaped big jail time from the state of Florida after hitting and killing a man while driving under the influence in March, but the Cleveland Browns wide receiver won’t get the same respite from the NFL. Two days after Stallworth began his 30-day prison term, NFL Commisar Roger Goodell placed Stallworth on indefinite suspension, notifying him in a letter that was excerpted on NFL.com:
“The conduct reflected in your guilty plea resulted in the tragic loss of life and was inexcusable. While the criminal justice system has determined the legal consequences of this incident, it is my responsibility as NFL Commissioner to determine appropriate league discipline for your actions, which have caused irreparable harm to the victim and his family, your club, your fellow players and the NFL.”[…]
“In due course, we will contact your representatives to schedule a meeting with you, after which I will make a final determination on discipline. Pending my final determination, you will not be permitted to visit the club’s facility or participate in any team activities.”
This had to happen. If Goodell intends to take a hard line with player behavior, then no player is begging to be eviscerated more than Stallworth. Goodell isn’t bound by the need to prove Stallworth guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and that’s fine. But under the precedents Goodell has set with Chris Henry and Pacman Jones, he has to drop the hammer on Stallworth. I don’t think a year suspension is too long; Goodell could suspend him for the rest of his career if he chose. You know how cranky those gingers can get sometimes.