Did Von Miller's Behavior Warrant Further Punishment from the NFL?

Christopher Hansen@ChrisHansenNFLNFL AnalystSeptember 11, 2013

Denver Broncos Pro-Bowl linebacker Von Miller isn't exactly making the best decisions these days.

Miller, who is currently serving a six-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, was stopped for speeding and found to be driving with a suspended license last week, according to CBS Denver. This comes on the heels of an August arrest for failing to appear in court for a traffic citation. 

According to ESPN, the linebacker will escape further punishment from the NFL, but the question is, was that the right call?

It is within Roger Goodell's power to further suspend Miller under the league's personal-conduct policy. After all, the star pass-rusher has repeatedly made poor decisions that have painted him, the Broncos and the NFL in a negative light. 

But while concerning for the Broncos and the league, Miller's actions aren't so severe that he should miss more games. Players are involved in traffic violations all the time, and as long as they aren't alcohol-related, the league has historically been light on punishment. However, no player has been suspended by the NFL for two non-alcohol-related traffic citations and an arrest for failure to appear, so there really isn't a precedent in place here.

That said, the NFL Players Association, which helped Miller negotiate his eight-game suspension down to six, would surely fight back if the league attempted to use a minor traffic violation to nullify their settlement. With the NFL and the NFLPA still fighting over HGH testing and eight more years to go under the current labor agreement, a battle like this is something neither side wants or needs.

The damage to Miller's reputation is likely punishment enough. Coming into this season, the Texas A&M product had already established himself as one of the NFL's big-name defensive players, but his pattern of behavior has put that status in jeopardy. Not only that, but Miller is one positive test away from a year-long suspension.

If the NFL really wants to punish Miller and make sure he's being smarter off the field, it can test him to the full extent that the substance-abuse policy allows. Miller is in stage three of the NFL's intervention program, and unless he negotiated other terms, that means the league can test him 10 times per month.

The linebacker's pattern of behavior is what's most concerning. Unchecked bad decisions often lead to even worse decisions with more serious consequences. No one knows if that will be the case with Miller, but it's certainly a concern for the league and the Broncos. 

A mentor for Miller would be a good start. A guy like Tony Dungy comes to mind as someone who could help him. Dungy advised quarterback Michael Vick during his return to football and has made a second career out of mentoring troubled players.

The resources are available to Miller, he just has to use them. The Broncos star will be seeking a big contract next year, and Denver needs to be reassured that Miller isn't on the brink of a one-year suspension or publicly shaming the organization.