By now, thanks to our real-time media world, you probably know that Miami Dolphins' defensive end Phillip Merling has been arrested for aggravated battery.
According to several reports, the alleged victim is also pregnant. I'm not writing to discuss the "innocent until proven guilty" debate. Clearly, there is NO excuse for striking a woman EVER.
I hope the allegations are untrue for the victim's sake not Merling's. I have to trust that the legal system will work itself out.
Regardless, Phillip Merling can not and will not start for the Miami Dolphins in 2010. He arguably won't even be on the team.
Merling's problem has never been a lack of talent. He just doesn't have the focus and work habits that an NFL starter needs.
Now, he has major legal troubles hanging over his head. How do you think his focus will be now?
Then there is the issue of what his teammates and peers will think. Sadly, domestic abuse is not all that uncommon in professional sports.
But, I would bet that the accusations of hitting a pregnant woman would bother any reasonable human being. In short, I don't think Merling will ever earn the respect of his teammates again.
Then there is the statement the organization will make from a public relations standpoint. The organization has suffered significant PR hits with Jeff Ireland's questioning of Dez Bryant and the departure of Jason Taylor with some of the fan base.
It's highly questionable whether they want the specter of Merling's alleged actions hanging over the team as well. I bet that they don't and whether it's sooner or later they jettison the Clemson product.
Enter Jared Odrick. The rookie defensive end had his own share of maturity concerns during his Penn State career—just not in any way comparable to Merling's.
Odrick's play was considered somewhat inconsistent during his first couple of seasons. Then, right after his junior year, he was cited for disorderly conduct after allegedly being in a fight with three other students and another college aged man. He was fined $430.
Despite this minor offense, Odrick blossomed subsequently both on and off the field. He was named as a team captain and one of the principle reasons he was drafted in the first round of this year's NFL draft was for his non-stop motor and relentless play.
NFL teams don't typically like to start rookies, but given Merling's actions, the Miami Dolphins might just need to do just that.