The League

Doug Farrar
Writer

Doug Farrar

A FootballOutsiders.com staff writer

Consistency Wanted

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As I understand it, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has taken it upon himself, and upon the league, to investigate the Plaxico Burress shooting incident in the wake of Judge Felicia Mennin's decision to adjourn the case until September. While it makes sense for the league to do due diligence as Burress is courted by several teams, I see a wide gap between what's happening here and the indefinite suspensions given to Donte' Stallworth and Michael Vick. The practice seems to be that if a player has been judged by the legal system, the league will put him on the shelf until such time as Goodell decides that review and punishment are warranted. Michael Vick spent two years in jail, but Goodell is putting that case in drydock until September for whatever reason. Because Vick isn't as popular with teams as Burress is? And is Stallworth's situation the same as Vick's? It seems to me that Goodell bases the expediency with which he deals with a player's disciplinary issues on the interest teams have in that player.

Goodell has said that he doesn't even want to talk to Vick about reinstatement until the punitive phase of Vick's life is over and he's released from home confinement on July 20. This would make sense if Goodell wasn't putting Vick on hold with one hand and escalating the Burress matter at the same time without any legal standing. Goodell has every right to be the arbiter in matters where players have been judged by the courts, but under what circumstances is he reviewing Burress' case? Burress has been charged, not convicted, and the NFL is playing both ends against the middle here.

I suppose it makes sense in theory -- no sense in having the general manager of the Jets or Bears pestering Goodell to get on the stick and decide what's going on so that Player X can be signed or not -- but it's backward in principle. No matter what a player's done, if that player is a free (or relatively free) individual capable of playing in the NFL, there should be a reasonable expectation that a decision on the length of a suspension should come down in a timely and fashion. Whether it's the player's union with a need to go beyond the standard grievance, or Goodell's need to get beyond the PR aspects of these cases, someone needs to come to this process with a level of urgency.

By Doug Farrar  |  June 29, 2009; 3:24 PM ET  | Category:  Crime , Doug Farrar , Michael Vick , NFL , Plaxico Burress , Roger Goodell Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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