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PREVIOUS SPORTS
• Sideline: Yes, Non–Conference Games DO Count
• NCAA Preview 2009
• Sideline: Time For The Talking To Stop
• Sideline: In Memory of Air McNair
• Sideline: Will Goodell Hand Out Hard Time?
• Sideline: Marshall's Not Joshing
• NFL Draft: No Rush To Judgment
• NFL Draft Analysis 2009 (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts
• Sideline: Will Play For Food
• Sideline: Wonderlic Scores
• Sideline: Manning and Sanchez
• Sideline: 2010 Leagues Sci–fi, or Fantasy? / March Madness
• Sideline: Break Out The Brackets
• Sideline: LaDainian Tomlinson On The Record
• Sideline: The Incredible Sulk Continues
• Sideline: Guildford Heat Fired Up
• Sideline: Super Bowl thoughts from the Valley of the Sun
• Sideline: I know I came in here for something
• Sideline: College Football National Signing Day
• Sideline: 27 Points — 27 Super Bowl thoughts
• Sideline: An Epic QB Matchup?
• Sideline: Appreciating Arizona for What They Were
• Sideline: NFL Divisional Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Bowl Season Hangover
• Sideline: Six weeks Later
• Sideline: Wildcard Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Santa's Sackings
• Sideline: A Weis Decision ...for Now
• Sideline: Eye on the Ticker
• Sideline: Lions — An Anagram of Losin
• Sideline: Ready for the Turkey
• Sideline: Making it to the Big Dance
• Sideline: Brighter Days Ahead for Chargers?
• Sideline: Unnecessary Hits To The Pocket / Upset: BYU
• Sideline: Romo's Pause / Seattle Seahawks
• Sideline: Weekend Prep: Red River and More
• Sideline: College Football's 'Crossroads' Weekend
• Sideline: Gramatical Error
• Sideline: Turning The Page
• Sideline: So Cal 'Quizzed
• Sideline: 3rd Tuesday Panic / Forté Yard Dash
• Sideline: Two and Oh; Oh and Two
• Sideline: No More NCAAffeine
• Sideline: Week 1 College Football
• Sideline: How To Spell Heisman / Chad Ocho Cinco
• Sideline: A Second Slice
• Sideline: The Favre story STILL won't go away
• Sideline: Olympic Notes / Ricky's Still Relevant
• Sideline: Committee Meetings
• Sideline: Let the QB Battles Begin
• Sideline: Slinging The Slinger — More Favre
• Interview: Clint Dempsey
• Sideline: Welcome to the 2008 season
• Sideline: Plus One
• 2008 NFL Draft Review
• Sideline: Draft: The Morning After
• Sideline: Draft: Thinking the Unthinkable
• Sideline: Draft: Ready For The Long Haul
• Sideline: Sofa–bound Sport
• Sideline: Post–Winter Wonderland
• Sideline: Six Impossible Things
• Sideline: Brady's Misdirection Play
• Sideline: Colorful Language
• Sideline: Let the Romo–bashing begin
• Sideline: Bowl Bites: The Wrap
• Sideline: All About The Coaches
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 3
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 2
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 1
• Sideline: Coach Situations Vacant
• Sideline: For Some, The Playoffs Are Now
• Sideline: A Certain Lack Of Welcome
• Sideline: Unrelated Notes
• Sideline: Two Thanksgiving thoughts
• Sideline: Halftime: NFC
• Sideline: Halftime: AFC
• Sideline: London / A Tale of Two Chads / Intimidation
• Sideline: Damp Squib / Other London Notes
• Sideline: Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em / Dolphins – The Aftermath
• Sideline: The Dolphins Did What?
• Sideline: Notes on the Defenses
• Sideline: Habits to be Broken
• Sideline: Overtime
• Sideline: This Week's Starters
• Sideline: USF: Covering The Spread / Fantastic Football
• Sideline: Grossman: The Final Act? / McNabb, the Epilogue
• Sideline: Eagles QB in Slight Controversy
• Sideline: Leftwich's Parting Gift / Boos cruise
• Sideline: Notre Dame M.I.A.
• Sideline: Looking Beyond NFL Wk. 1
• Sideline: Best Hope For Heisman
• Sideline: Coaching Hot Seats / AP Poll Feeling ’Appy
• Sideline: The NFL’s Prime Cuts
• Sideline: Michigan Falls to Killer Apps
• Sideline: Look Out Couch / The Taint's On You, Bud
SPORTS

SIDELINE
Observations, Opinion & Occasional Silliness by Richard L Gale

Will Goodell Hand Out Hard Time?
July 1, 2009

PREVIOUS SIDELINE NEXT SIDELINE

When it comes to crime and punishment, I guess I fall into the 'wishy washy liberal' category. I've always suspected 'hardliners' of being egotists more interested in projecting themselves as 'tough guys' than understanding or solving social issues. I'm not an American voter, but if I were, well, let's say I wouldn't Rush to judgement.

Then again, like most people, I wake up some mornings in a hanging mood.

On March 14, Cleveland Browns receiver Donte' Stallworth got drunk, got in his car, and knocked a guy down, killing him. This past month Stallworth was given just 30 days jail time. Sure, there's 1000 hours of community service and he'll be on probation for a decade, but that's just window dressing. A series of lectures to kids about 'taking responsibility', and a 'don't do it again' finger wag. Don't expected any bleeding heart routine from me — Stallworth is privileged to be an NFL star, has a Bentley (but not, it seems, a chauffeur) and a contract that probably pays him more money than victim Mario Reyes earned in his lifetime. Enough money that Stallworth was able to settle with Reyes' family rather than face a civil lawsuit.

Well, Stallworth won't be earning that money this year, at least. This past month NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Stallworth from the NFL indefinitely, without pay. And for the first time, I'm liking the application of the NFL's conduct policy.

Let's face it, the NFL personal conduct policy is a nebulous beast, with the latitude to hand out draconian penalties for whatever the Commissioner considers a transgression. You don't have to be convicted of something. Just being arrested or questioned about an incident counts under the policy, if Adam 'Pacman 'Jones is an example — Pacman served more of his NFL suspension before he was convicted of anything than after. It seems to me that the application of the policy presumes guilt.

As for what conduct requires what punishment, it's Commissioner's whim as far as I can tell. But I like 'indefinitely', especially in the case of Stallworth. For one thing, it denies the erstwhile player the opportunity to easily recoup the money wafted at the dead man's family to make them go away. For another, it sends a message that wasn't sent clearly enough when former Commissioner Tagliabue suspended Leonard Little for just eight games under similar circumstances.

Also notable is the way 'indefinitely' sidesteps direct comparison between the killer of a man and a killer of dogs — the issue of Michael Vick's reinstatement still lurks. Who deserves tougher punishment: accidental killers of men or deliberate killers or animals? I accept no excuses for either, neither do most 'right-minded people' (ah, see how easily I slip into the lingo), and any hint of a draconian response from Goodell is welcome. Ban 'em for life I say! Well, banish 'em to the United Football League for a year or two, anyway.

I'll skip detailed comment on Vick (my editor doesn't encourage that sort of language), and move onto the third punishment Commish Goodell is deliberating: that of Plaxico Burress. If I'm honest, my first reaction to Burress' incident last year was to snicker (or, as I'm English, snigger), because a wishy-washy liberal like me is uncomfortable with the idea of the general public wandering around fully loaded, so the idea of somebody buying a gun for protection, and then Glocking himself in the thigh while adjusting his pants appeals to my sense of irony. At the time, I figured Burress had taught himself a lesson.

However, if the Commissioner is as tough on Burress as Stallworth, I may be sharing his hardline stance now — because I'm a wishy-washy liberal who doesn't like guns. It's just blind luck that in Stallworth's case a man died, while in Burress' case the damage was self-inflicted. Guns do kill people, but usually when in the possession of somebody who shouldn't have a gun. Cars and drunks work out much the same way, except intoxication is easier to measure than stupidity.

What Goodell has correct is to be dealing with these cases now, in the offseason. Mid-season, football players can do no wrong (apart from that most heinous of crimes, celebrating a touchdown). If they do something stupid at 2am, they're never more than a few days from their next reception, and the fans are too busy idolizing the stars to give them a prolonged cold shoulder when they foul up. For that reason, there is no more powerful time to be Roger Goodell than mid-Summer.

I'm just hoping Goodell doesn't choose now to be less hardline than me.

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