Stallworth Suspended Indefinitely
UPDATED (9:29 p.m.)...
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has suspended Cleveland Browns wide receiver Donte' Stallworth indefinitely without pay, the league has announced.
The suspension comes two days after Stallworth pleaded guilty to killing a pedestrian while driving drunk and was sentenced to 30 days in jail under a plea agreement with prosecutors. Under the terms of the plea deal, Stallworth's jail term is to be followed by 10 years of probation, the first two of which reportedly will be "community controlled" with restrictions on his ability to leave his home.
Goodell called Stallworth's conduct "inexcusable" in a letter to the wide receiver and suspended him under the NFL's personal conduct and substance abuse policies, according to the league's announcement.
Goodell prohibited Stallworth from visiting the Browns' training facility and barred him from all team-related activities pending a yet-to-be-scheduled meeting, after which Goodell will make a final decision about the length of Stallworth's suspension, the league announced.
"The conduct reflected in your guilty plea resulted in the tragic loss of life and was inexcusable," Goodell wrote to Stallworth, according to the league's announcement. "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.
"... The conduct that led to your conviction plainly violates both the Personal Conduct and Substances of Abuse policies. Either provides me with full authority to take appropriate disciplinary action against you, including a fine or suspension without pay, and to impose appropriate conditions on your continued participation in the NFL. In this case, there is ample evidence to warrant significant discipline under both policies."
Under the terms of his plea agreement, Stallworth also must undergo drug and alcohol testing, must perform 1,000 hours of community service and had his driving privileges suspended for life, according to reports.
Stallworth was charged with DUI manslaughter and faced a potential 15 years in prison if convicted. Stallworth's blood alcohol level reportedly was measured above the legal limit after his vehicle struck and killed 59-year-old crane operator Mario Reyes in March in Miami Beach.
Stallworth reportedly reached a financial settlement with Reyes's family to avoid a wrongful death lawsuit.
The Browns are scheduled to report to training camp on July 31.
"There is no reasonable dispute that your continued eligibility for participation at this time would undermine the integrity of and public confidence in our league," Goodell wrote to Stallworth, according to the NFL's announcement. "Accordingly, I have decided to suspend you indefinitely, effective immediately. 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.
"... Everyone associated with the league derives tremendous benefits from participating in our game and from the extraordinary support we receive from the public. With these benefits comes, among other things, the responsibility to conduct ourselves in a lawful and responsible way, with no entitlement to or expectation of favorable treatment."
David Cornwell, an attorney representing Stallworth, issued a written statement tonight in which he wrote: "Commissioner Goodell's interim decision to suspend Donte' Stallworth pending the Commissioner's review of the facts and circumstances in the criminal matter is the first step in the NFL disciplinary process.
"After reviewing the facts, Miami law enforcement personnel, Florida State Court Judge Dennis Murphy, Florida State Attorney, Katherine Rundle, the Miami/Dade County chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and, most importantly, Mr. Reyes' family concluded that the criminal process ended appropriately.
"State Attorney Rundle stated that given 'the unique facts involved... Mr. Stallworth's excellent pre-incident history of community service, abundant references that attest to his good character, his lack of any traffic violations or criminal convictions, his full and complete post-incident cooperation with law enforcement, and his willingness to accept complete responsibility for his actions... a just resolution of this case has been reached.'
"Commissioner Goodell has reserved a final decision. When he has the opportunity to review the 'unique facts involved,' including, specifically, the issue of causation as well as Donte's character and the manner in which Donte' accepted responsibility in the criminal and civil proceedings, we fully anticipate that the factors that supported the 'just resolution' of the criminal matter will be equally persuasive with Commissioner Goodell.
Consistent with the wishes of Mr. Reyes' family not to relive a tragedy through the public scrutiny of criminal and civil trials, we look forward to addressing these matters privately with Commissioner Goodell."
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