Detroit Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley finally learned his fate regarding a 2012 DUI and reckless driving case, but the Auburn alum wasn't present in court to hear it firsthand.
According to Michael Brannon of WALA Fox 10 TV, Fairley was sentenced to a suspended six-month jail term and one year of probation, but he did not attend the hearing. This is despite the fact that assistant district attorney Spiro Cheriogotis insists that Fairley was expected to be there in person.
The judge's order was explicit that the defendant was supposed to be in court today. He was not here. The judge, I believe, followed the rule as he believed it. Rule nine allowed for a waiver of the defendant's presence. The judge followed the rule. We think that the defendant should've been here today as the state.
Brannon is also reporting that Fairley's attorney, Sid Herrell, plans to appeal the case. He and Fairley have until Aug. 14 to do so.
Fairley was the 13th-overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft and has truly started to come into his own over the past couple seasons. He played in all but one game during the 2013 campaign and set career highs with 35 tackles and six sacks.
Ndamukong Suh and Fairley make up a formidable heart of Detroit's defense, but questions always seem to persist about Fairley's commitment. With that said, Lions general manager Martin Mayhew is impressed with what he has seen out of him during training camp thus far, per ESPN.com's Michael Rothstein.
"He's been healthy. He's been engaged. He's been in the weight room doing the things that we've asked him to do," Mayhew said. "So I've been happy with what he's done to date."
Fairley appears to be trending in the right direction from a football perspective, but this ruling obviously creates a great deal of uncertainty. Things could change significantly if Fairley appeals as expected, but the initial decision makes it quite clear that a jail term of some length is very possible.
The fact that it is suspended means that Fairley may not have to serve any time if he doesn't violate his probation for one year, but that isn't a sure thing either.
Also, Fairley potentially faces discipline from the NFL now that his fate has been determined by the court. Many players have been suspended by the league despite escaping legal issues, so one can only assume that some type of suspension is forthcoming.
With that said, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press is reporting that the NFL has yet to make a decision on further punishment regarding Fairley:
Fairley will become a free agent at the end of the season, and a pending jail term would obviously hurt his chances of landing a big contract, so it is hugely important that he remains on his best behavior.
Fairley still has a chance to come away from this situation with a more favorable resolution, but there is no doubt that he has a long road ahead of him.
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