2010 NFL Season Preview: Evaluating The Impact Of The Top 10 Suspensions
As citizens of this country, we are all bound by laws and regulations that we must obey. Whether one is a teacher, politician, or even a professional athlete, it doesn't matter. The law is above us all and makes no exceptions.
Rules exist in all areas of life. For example, if a student were to cheat on a test at school, he would be disciplined by the principal.
In the NFL, Commissioner Roger Goodell runs his league in a similar fashion. He has his own code of conduct that each player is required to agree to.
Failing to do so will result in a corresponding suspension and loss of the golden privilege it is to play football with the hope that he will become a better man.
Heading into the upcoming season, several players have been sentenced to a suspension. With some of them being integral pieces to their team, the impact of their absences could be disastrous.
Note: This slideshow contains both established suspensions as well as potential ones.
10. Tennessee Titans OLB Gerald McRath
Gerald McRath has been suspended for four games due to violating the league's performance enhancing drug policy. The Titans play the Raiders, Steelers, Giants, and Broncos during that span.
McRath has taken the suspension maturely as he stated that "I'll just take the four-game suspension and I'll keep on trucking. This is just a little adversity in my career.
You just have to come in one day at a time. I really have to work harder now...I'll say this is just a small part of my life and I'll move on and get better."
The linebacker is entering his second season in the league. Last year, he provided great depth, recording 47 tackles and an interception. He will be replacing David Thornton as the starter this year.
Missing his services for the early part of the season is bad news for a unit that is trying to regain their 2008 dominance.
9. Free Agent RB Lendale White
Lendale White has been suspended for four games for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.
As a result, along with his poor work ethic and overall attitude, the former second round pick was released by the Seattle Seahawks just weeks after they executed a draft day trade for him.
Not only does Seattle ultimately lose a fourth and sixth round draft pick, but they no longer have a power running back.
8. Miami Dolphins NT Jason Ferguson
Jason Ferguson has been suspended for eight games for violating the league's performance enhancing substance abuse policy for the second time. The Dolphins play the Bills, Vikings, Jets, Patriots, Packers, Steelers, Bengals, and Ravens during that span.
His loss for the first half of the season will have a significant impact on the Dolphins defense. In the 3-4 scheme that they implement, the nose tackle is the most critical piece of the puzzle. Without a stud up the middle, it makes the entire front seven's job much tougher.
7. Free Agent QB JaMarcus Russell
JaMarcus Russell has been arrested for illegal possession of codeine syrup, an ingredient used in the popular alcoholic concoction 'Purple Drank'.
Aside from his legal issues, since coedine syrup is on the list of the league's banned substances, Russell is most likely to receive a four-game suspension.
This incident decreases his chances of ever returning to the league again. He is arguably the greatest bust of all-time (sorry Ryan Leaf) and all indications point to it staying that way.
The only impact his pending suspension will have on the Raiders, his former team, is they look a wiser team for cutting ties with him earlier in the offseason.
6. New York Jets WR Santonio Holmes
Santonio Holmes has been suspended for four games for violating the league's substance abuse policy. The Jets play the Ravens, Patriots, Dolphins, and Bills during that span.
In response to the news, the Pittsburgh Steelers traded the Super Bowl XLIII MVP to the New York Jets in exchange for a fifth-round draft pick.
The Jets should be able to handle his absence well. They have other proven playmakers that can step up and fill his shoes until his return.
However, it's always tough for a newly added player to get adjusted to a system and form chemistry with his teammates. Missing four valuable games certainly doesn't help his situation.
Moreover, for a potential Super Bowl contender that already has contract issues to sort out, this is one more distraction than they'd rather have.
5. Minnesota Vikings DT's Pat And Kevin Williams
Pat Williams and Kevin Williams are pending a possible four-game suspension for violating the league's banned substance policy.
The two have been fighting this case ever since they tested positive for a banned diuretic in 2008.
The good news for the Vikings is that the court has rejected the NFL's request to expedite the handling of the case, meaning that they may get to play the entire 2010 season.
Losing them would have severe consequences as both are amongst the top defensive lineman in the league and are primary reasons the Vikings ranked first in quarterback sacks and second in rushing defense.
4. Houston Texans OLB Brian Cushing
Brian Cushing has been suspended for four games for violating the league's performance enhancing substance policy.
The Texans play the Colts, Redskins, Cowboys, and Raiders during that span.
Cushing, last year's defensive rookie of the year award recipient, was a big-time playmaker, registering 133 tackles, four sacks, two forced fumbles, and four interceptions.
The Texans don't have much of a backup plan, so losing him is a major blow to their unit. Moreover, he and the team will lose considerable credibility just as Shawne Merriman has.
3. San Diego Chargers WR Vincent Jackson
Vincent Jackson has been suspended for three games for violating the league's personal conduct policy. The Chargers will play the Chiefs, Jaguars, and Seahawks during that span.
The Pro Bowl receiver had a breakout campaign last year, posting 68 receptions for 1,167 yards and nine TDs.
The Chargers, a team that has struggled in the early part of the season for the past few years, will definitely feel his loss.
On the other hand, considering these three games will be included in the ten games he was planning to sit out due to a contract dispute anyway, this isn't too bad.
This will, however, affect their contract negotiations as organizations are emphasizing the priority of high off-the-field character.
2. Philadelphia Eagles QB Michael Vick
Michael Vick is pending a possible suspension for violating the league's personal conduct policy.
Vick was allegedly involved in an altercation outside a night club where he was celebrating his 30th birthday. Of course, the bigger concern, for a man on parole, should be why in the world he had the poor judgement to be in such a situation in the first place.
Nonetheless, the Eagles have stated that they will not release Vick, so we can assume he will remain the team's backup QB.
A possible suspension, though, would put the team in a dangerous situation. With young QB Kevin Kolb now the starter, they need Vick's experience as a safety net.
However, this entire incident is much worse for Vick, personally. For the most part, he has behaved appropriately ever since being reinstated into the league.
However, his dog fighting charges are still and will forever be ingrained in the back of our minds. For a player trying to prove to the world that he is a changed man, this doesn't help his cause.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger
Ben Roethlisberger has been suspended for six games for violating the league's personal conduct policy.
The Steelers play the Falcons, Titans, Buccaneers, Ravens, Browns, and Dolphins during that span.
Despite prosecutors deciding not to file sexual assault charges on Roethlisberger, Goodell felt it necessary to take action. Do note, though, that he has made a behavioral exception that may reduce the sentence to four games.
Roethlisberger is arguably one of the league's top five quarterbacks. Furthermore, he is the leader of the offense and his loss is very detrimental to the unit.
Now, the team will be forced to plug in either veteran Byron Leftwich or third-year pro Dennis Dixon in the meantime. As a result, some are even predicting the Steelers start the season 2-4.
While some believe this may affect the organization internally, I'm expecting the six-time Super Bowl winning franchise to persevere through it and continue their successful ways.
Other Legal Issues
As a loyal NFL fan and follower, it's disappointing to see so many players around the league get involved in off-the-field issues. Here are a list of some other notable players who have had legal troubles.
Vince Young was involved in altercation at a strip club.
Shaun Rodgers attempted to bring a handgun in a carry-on-bag through airport security.
Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor was accused of rape charges.
Robert James violated the league's performance enhancing drug policy.
Ryan Tucker violated the league's anabolic steroids and related substances policy.
Hollis Thomas violated the league's performance enhancing drug policy.
Ed Grant violated the league's performance enhancing drug policy.
Quinn Ojinnaka arrested on battery charges.
Johnny Jolly arrested for illegal possession of coedine syrup.