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Dan Levy
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Dan Levy

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Goodell Must Be Tough

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Does the fact that when Donte Stallworth crashed into 59-year old Mario Reyes, he was driving a Bentley after a night of drinking make the story any more tragic?

No. A man died. One man got behind the wheel of a car, drunk, and killed another man. On a base level, that's as tragic as this story -- any story -- can get.

But somehow this story got worse, this week, when Stallworth settled with the family for an undisclosed amount of money in exchange for less time in jail than most people get when stealing a car, let alone driving a car while intoxicated and hitting a man, killing him. In fact, a first-time offender caught stealing a car would be sentenced to somewhere in the neighborhood of three years. But an NFL player kills a man while drunk behind the wheel of a car... yeah, he gets a month.

In short, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has proven that he's willing and able to suspend a player for whatever he feels like. If a guy sneezes and the player next to him doesn't say "God Bless You" I'd think that he might get six games if Goodell finds out. So it stands to reason that one of his players who drove drunk and killed a man would get suspended for quite a long time.

This is an odd situation, if you think about it. If you got a DUI and your job had nothing to do with driving a car, would you be suspended? if you were arrested for whatever reason, even DUI manslaughter, would you lose your job? There are thousands of jobs in this country that are far more important -- and yes, lower in profile -- than an NFL wide receiver, yet most of those jobs would be waiting for you as soon as you got out of the slammer. Frankly, I'd be far more upset if my doctor or attorney was put in jail. My favorite team's receiver, I don't care so much.

Yet you can't deny the fact that Stallworth is a public figure. People, in theory, wear his name and number on their backs. He's a hero -- albeit a hero because he can run and catch. Shouldn't he be held to a higher standard?

And he killed a man.

Many people have been tough on Goodell for being tough on his players. But in this case, let's hope Goodell is tougher than Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Dennis Murphy. Stallworth shouldn't be suspended for life, but if Michael Vick got two years and still hasn't been reinstated yet, Stallworth can sit for a while.

By Dan Levy  |  June 19, 2009; 7:20 AM ET  | Category:  Cleveland Browns , Crime , Dan Levy , Roger Goodell Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Let me see if I got this right. You commit a crime, you do your time. Then you are told you cannot work. Dan, if it happened to you, would it be alright if you were not allowed to write anymore? You could probably write a book about the incident and make a ton of money. Why is the legal system not good enough for the NFL? I can buy into 4 game suspensions for infractions within the game and the system, but we have a legal system for a reason. If we were all subjected to arbitrary discipline that resulted in unemployment outside of our legal system, it would be crippling to society. In the case of Michael Vick, just see what the fan reaction is when he appears on the sidelines. I believe his punishment is not done yet. In the case of Ray Lewis, someone also died and instead of coming forth with who did it, he was convicted of obstructing justice. Record fine, but how many games did he miss. The NFLPA need to grow a set.

Posted by: Eradicator | June 19, 2009 11:28 AM

Dan and every other contributor should have been required to read Les Carpenter's comment before writing his own. Dan and most of the others keep making the faulty statement that the decedent was killed because Stallworth drove drunk. But the honest fact is that none of us knows that to be the case. The decedent jaywalked across a six-lane highway. We don't know if Stallworth would have avoided him had he been sober, or whether he would have hit him, sober or not. Undoubtedly, the reason the prosecution made this plea deal was that it would have been very difficult to prove that Stallworth's being drunk, rather than the decedent's violation of the law, was the cause of the accident. This was a very reasonable and just result considering all the evidence in the case.

Posted by: woocane | June 19, 2009 10:12 PM

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