Donte Stallworth Should Not Be Crucified For His Actions

Greg RiotAnalyst IJune 18, 2009

NEW ORLEANS - 2005:  Donte Stallworth of the New Orleans Saints poses for his 2005 NFL headshot at photo day in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Getty Images)

I know what you’re expecting, another foul mouthed rant about another degenerate from the NFL. I’ve lambasted guys like Pacman Jones and Michael Vick for their horrendous infractions. Those guys just don’t get “it." They’re repeat offenders. Donte Stallworth is not one of those guys.

Stallworth has been served a fairly light penalty after running over 59-year-old Mario Reyes with his vehicle while driving drunk. Stallworth had a .126 blood-alcohol level when tested. At face value, this sounds like another superstar in the NFL literally getting away with an unspeakable crime.

But Donte Stallworth called 9-1-1- himself, he didn’t flee the scene. He assumed guilt for the incident, paid a settlement to the Reyes family, and did everything a person in his shoes should have done. He didn’t run. He didn’t hide. He didn’t blame anyone but himself, even when there was a question of what Mario Reyes was doing in the middle of the street at that time.

For his crimes, Stallworth has received a 30-day jail sentence, two years of house arrest, eight years of probation, 1,000 hours of community service and a lifetime suspension of his driver’s license. The typical sentence for vehicular manslaughter is 15-years.

How did Donte Stallworth get off the hook so easily? Because he’s a good guy that simply did a bad thing. He’s not a spoiled brat that tries to circumvent the system.

We’re talking about the same guy that drove through Hurricane Katrina to get to the Superdome to offer a helping hand during the catastrophe. When a cop pulled him over amidst the storm, his simple response was, “I’m a New Orleans Saint and my people are in there."

Face it, you haven’t heard a peep out of Donte Stallworth ever. He’s a class citizen, and someone who took responsibility for his mistakes. And now he gets to retain his position with the Cleveland Browns and will likely get to play this year. With all the crap that Roger Goddell has had to manage from Plaxico, Vick and Pacman, Stallworth made it easy. So don’t crucify him. He’s not a villain.

The 28-year-old receiver is still a Cleveland Brown and his role with the team may increase with Kellen Winslow Jr. in Tampa Bay now. Stallworth caught just 17 passes for 170 yards and a single touchdown in 2008.

He’s always been the vertical receiver in a pass heavy system, and with the Browns as +900 dogs in the AFC North to win the division, the last thing they’ll have to worry about is Stallworth. He’ll be there as the same guy, who will walk away from a tragedy with a new resolve and appreciation for what he has. That’s the kind of guy Donte Stallworth is. Don’t be fooled into thinking he’s the same as the rest.