This prompted many authors, myself among them, to write about the failings of the American justice system, and many supposed that based on this inherent corruption, Donte Stallworth would be suiting up for the Cleveland Browns at some point during the season.
If we couldn’t expect justice in the court room, the supposed bastion of reason, then what chance was there to find it in an elitist club like the NFL?
Today Roger Goodell answered that question loud and clear.
In a message to Stallworth, Goodell noted that the wide receiver has done, "irreparable harm to the victim and his family, your club, fellow players and the NFL.” He then dropped the gavel with a finality that should have been taken care of in the courtroom.
Goodell also went on the say that, “In due course, we will contact your representatives to schedule a meeting with you, after which I will make a final determination on discipline.”
And though the word “indefinite” obviously carries no set time within its boundaries, the implication is that Stallworth will not be playing in the NFL this season, and possibly will not be playing for quite some time.
Reporting for ESPN, Chris Mortensen surmised that Stallworth may be forced to sit for the entirety of his Cleveland Browns contract (two years) or possibly longer.
During this period, Stallworth will not see a dime of his pay.
By comparison, Goodell’s predecessor Paul Tagliabue suspended Leonard Little eight games for a DUI manslaughter case in 1998, and there was some question as to whether Goodell would stick with precedent or strive to set his own.
Clearly he is more interested in the latter.
And though I’ve not always been a fan of the way Goodell has approached the league in terms of his heavy-handed and sometimes arbitrary style, I’ve got to say that I think he got it right this time.
Say what you will about him, he’s big on responsibility, something that had been lacking for years prior to his ascension to the commissioner’s post.
Responsibility not related to steroids that is, but let’s save that debate for another time.
And though this is something I’ve been calling for, it’s hard to feel at all vindicated right now because this entire incident has left me feeling a little sad.
Sad for the Reyes family even though they’ve become the beneficiaries of a small fortune.
Sad for the little guy, because this case has proven how easily the wealthy can buy their way out of trouble.
And yes, sad for even Donte Stallworth, because I think in essence he’s a decent guy who made a terrible mistake.
But in this life Donte, men must pay for those mistakes and hopefully by laying down the law, the Commissioner is doing his best to make sure you can’t simply get away Scot-free.
Well done Commish. You’ve temporarily returned some sanity to this topsy turvy world.