Browns wide receiver Donte Stallworth has received his punishment from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell: he’ll miss the entire 2009 season without pay.
Stallworth, 28, who pleaded guilty to DUI manslaughter in Florida in connection with a March 14 crash in which he struck and killed construction worker Mario Reyes, will be reinstated after the Super Bowl in February 2010, the league said.
Portions of a letter Goodell had written to Stallworth were released by the league earlier today:
“In my view, the essential facts are that you had alcohol in your system well above the legal limit, made a conscious decision to drive, and struck and killed a man. As you recognize, this conduct and the loss of life has caused serious damage to the NFL and NFL players generally. Legal arguments that focus on criminal liability under Florida law do not diminish that damage or your responsibility for your conduct. via.
Serious tangible damage to the NFL and its players? I doubt it, and I think this suspension is too heavy-handed. Unlike the state of Florida, Goodell isn’t bound by inconveniences like the presumption of innocence, for example. He can do whatever the hell he wants, and he is. Stallworth, for all intents and purposes, has paid his debt to society, and there’s no tangible evidence, other than drawing the ire of a few bitchy columnists, suggesting that Stallworth’s conduct has hurt the NFL’s bottom line.
I can appreciate Goodell’s position that he doesn’t want to be the guy that trots out a skill-position player for everyone to cheer on after he ran over “an innocent man” in his Bentley. While he was legally impaired. But considering that Stallworth is under contract with the Browns, he might come out ahead on that deal. It’s funny because the Browns are godawful, see.