NFL: 10 Most Ridiculous Player Suspensions in League History
Recent suspensions of Ndamukong Suh and James Harrison have brought renewed attention to the NFL suspension policy. However, neither of these rank among the all-time most ridiculous suspensions in league history.
Ridiculous has multiple definitions.
Occasionally, the NFL is heavy-handed when doling out temporary pink slips. The suspension will be disproportionate to the offense or the league is delving too deeply into the personal lives of their employees.
Other times, the conduct that necessitates the punishment is mind-boggling.
Whatever the reason, these suspensions warrant a place in the discussion of the most ridiculous in league history.
Vincent Jackson Was Suspended for Three Games Because of Unlicensed Driving
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The San Diego Chargers have had a tumultuous relationship with their star wideout. As have the police, who arrested Jackson for driving without a license after initially stopping him for loud music.
It should be noted that operating a vehicle without a license was a probation violation stemming from an earlier drunk driving conviction. The initial charge was arguably deserving of a NFL suspension.
Yet, he was suspended for three games by the league for the rather benign offense of unlicensed driving. Perhaps he had been placed on double-secret probation by Roger Goodell, but the commissioner would never do anything so absurd, would he?
Lastly, Jackson really couldn't afford a driver during his license suspension? Apparently, "common sense is not so common."
Dexter Manley Gets Life Instead of Help
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Dexter Manley helped the Washington Redskins to two Super Bowl titles in the1980s. Unfortunately, his life off the field was tragic by comparison.
Manley battled an addiction to crack cocaine. He would eventually end up in jail for numerous drug-related offenses.
The most concerning element of his story is that he was given a lifetime ban by the NFL in 1991 for failing a fourth drug test. Instead of being given the help he needed—or even suspended for another year—he was denied the chance to ever play again.
It is understood that a positive result for performance enhancing drugs is grounds for long suspensions and bans. A soul-gripping addiction to a substance that probably inhibits his abilities on the field is not similar.
The NFL had a chance to help a man who obviously had a problem. Instead, the league added to the problem by taking away his only release.
Plaxico Burress Shot Himself—and Still Got Suspended
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Plaxico Burress accidentally shot himself in the leg in November 2008 inside of a Manhattan nightclub.
The above sentence alone would probably been enough to categorize his subsequent four-game suspension by the New York Giants as absurd. Further inspection reveals that it is even more ludicrous.
The fact that he was sentenced to two years in prison is absurd. There is a law in New York that prohibits unregistered guns, resulting in a two-year automatic sentence if violated, which was strictly followed.
It seems pretty obvious that the only person hurt in this scenario was Plaxico himself. Sometimes the letter of the law gets in the way of the spirit of the law.
Santonio Holmes Is(n't) a Terrible Person
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Any time a list regarding something ridiculous is created, it is required by law that at least two New York Jets references be made. Consider the law satisfied.
Santonio Holmes has partaken in smoking marijuana. That much is certain.
What isn't certain is why the NFL cares so deeply about this issue.
Jason Whitlock has exposed that smoking marijuana is not uncommon among college football players. There hasn't been a tangible effect of that behavior on the college level.
The marijuana laws in this country are changing and it will be interesting to see what the NFL does about it. Will teams that play in a state that has partially decriminalized weed (or made it medically available) be at a competitive advantage with free agents?
Regardless, a four-game suspension for pot makes the "war on drugs" look successful.
Tank Johnson Believes in the Second Amendment
Tank Johnson does not seem to understand that he must put away the guns for a few years.
He was first arrested for having a gun in his car and placed on probation. Surely he knew after his court date that he needed to be registered to own a weapon.
Soon thereafter, while still on probation, his house was raided by the police. Inside, they found six guns, including two assault rifles.
How he didn't figure out to get rid of his guns for the relatively short time period of his career (maybe 10 years) is beyond comprehension.
For his ridiculous decisions, he lost half of the 2007 season.
Albert Haynesworth Does the ATL Stomp
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Albert Haynesworth committed one of the most indefensible acts that the NFL has witnessed.
While another player was on the ground with his helmet removed, Haynesworth used the opportunity to stomp on his bare head. The motivation may have been frustration due to ongoing antics of the opposing offensive line, but there isn't any room in football for such behavior.
The NFL acted quickly, suspending Big Al for five games.
The act itself was unbelievable. Nobody would have blamed the NFL for going further in their punishment.
Stanley Wilson Needed Serious Help
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Stanley Wilson is another victim of a system that did not work properly.
There is no doubt that he brought his own pain in his life relative to his drug use. The unfortunate, and ridiculous, part is that the NFL felt it was in its best interests to ban him for life because of his problem.
On the eve before the 1989 Super Bowl, Wilson was late to a team meeting because he was in his room using cocaine.
Considering the timing of this occurrence, it couldn't be more apparent that Wilson had a deep problem that required help. Thus, the NFL offered him a lifetime ban to get it together.
Johnathan Babineaux Demonstrates the NFL's Inconsistency
The Atlanta Falcons Johnathan Babineaux was arrested with 40 grams of marijuana. Somehow, he was able to escape being charged with intent to distribute.
This means that the marijuana was for his personal consumption.
Soon thereafter, the NFL suspended him for one game.
If other players are being given four-game suspensions for failing multiple drug tests, then that should be the punishment. However, if it is was his first transgression, the NFL doesn't punish a player for an initial test failure.
So which is it, NFL?
Terrelle Pryor Commited an Act That Violated the Rules
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Terrelle Pryor's troubles at the Ohio State University are well-documented. The "tattoos-for-trophies" scandal cost head coach Jim Tressel his job and several players received suspensions.
Pryor also allegedly received improper benefits, including sports cars. All of these actions were violations of NCAA rules.
None of these acts run afoul of the NFL's guidelines. Therefore, the NFL should not have had the power to suspend him for the first five games of his career.
This situation brings to light a commissioner who is empowered beyond reason. If the NFL is going to suspend players for behavior committed while they were college athletes, the league needs to provide payment for these players during their college careers.
Micheal Vick Is a Necessity on This List
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His behavior releases something primal in people's reactions. Americans especially have such an adoration for their pets that these types of acts shake citizens to their very core.
All savageness aside, culture cannot be used as an explanation for the severe stupidity involved. At the time, Vick was one of the most visible players in the most popular game in the country.
It's difficult enough for regular criminals to commit their crimes in secrecy. There was absolutely zero chance that Vick would have been able to finish his criminal career without the world getting wind of it.