The League

Doug Farrar
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Doug Farrar

A FootballOutsiders.com staff writer

Goodell Should Channel Judge Landis

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The Stallworth case brought three other cases to mind right away. First, there was O.J. Simpson's initial foray into the trial system, where he won the lottery in the criminal portion, but paid big in the civil round. Of course, Simpson wound up replaying the criminal round with far greater consequences -- we'll have to hope Stallworth doesn't do the same. Second, there was Rams defensive end Leonard Little's 1999 conviction on an involuntary manslaughter charge. Little spent 90 days in a city workhouse and four years on probation after he killed a woman in a car accident while drunk. Oh, and he was also suspended for 8 games in the '99 season. A tough road to hoe, though he got off quite a bit better than Susan Gutweiler of Oakville, Mo. -- the woman he killed.

The third case is the one that I hope Roger Goodell finds instructive -- the acquittal of eight members of the 1919 Chicago White Sox in a sham of a conspiracy trial that was doomed from the start. Key evidence, including the confessions of Eddie Cicotte and Joe Jackson that they did indeed conspire to fix the World Series, went missing. The two players recanted their confessions and the "Black Sox" were acquitted. However, Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis had a nasty surprise for the eight players in question:

Regardless of the verdict of juries, no player who throws a ball game, no player who undertakes or promises to throw a ball game, no player who sits in confidence with a bunch of crooked ballplayers and gamblers, where the ways and means of throwing a game are discussed and does not promptly tell his club about it, will ever play professional baseball.

The precedent here is obviously not that Stallworth fixed games, but that the Commissioner of a sport had the power to apply some sort of actual justice where the courts could not. I'm not saying that Goodell should ban Stallworth for life -- his predecessors did him no favors in letting Little off with a slap on the wrist -- but if the Ginger Hammer wants to send the message that there is indeed a new sheriff in town, he must act decisively and with a punishment that fits the crime more adequately than the justice system has. And regardless of the verdict, someone needs to make Stallworth understand that this is more than a traffic ticket. Unfortunately, Goodell seems to be the last in line with the ability to do so.

By Doug Farrar  |  June 19, 2009; 10:12 AM ET  | Category:  Cleveland Browns , Crime , Doug Farrar , Roger Goodell Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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