Don’t Have to Wait on Legal Process to Punish Pro Athletes

I appreciate what Adrian Peterson said. That said, he should not be in uniform this week. Or any week, until he’s had his day in court. Same thing with Greg Hardy, who, actually, HAD his day in court, and same with Ray McDonald. The league needs to suspends these players, with pay, until the legal process plays out.

Suspending them with pay does a couple things across a broad spectrum that make it better than these random indefinite suspensions handed about by commissioner Roger Goodell, and better than letting them continue to play.

For starters, it sends the message that has somehow got lost again, that to play in the NFL, you are held to a higher standard. You can’t put yourself in a position to face such charges.Charges that stem among the most violent, and most despicable in our society are serious matters. If you’re actually being charged with domestic violence, or child abuse, or rape, or anything within that framework, then you’ve put yourself in a really bad situation that jeopardizes your career, and puts your team at risk. No court system is going to come after a high profile athlete with access to high profile attorneys without some decent evidence, the scrutiny and backlash of doing so would undermine political and law careers all over the place. So if there are charges, if there’s smoke, then you don’t get to play until we know there’s no fire, and/or know the extent of the fire.

Suspending the players with pay would likely deter their lawyers from pushing back, and pushing back court dates to maximize their client’s appeal to prospective employers, or their current one. And, by still paying them, if they’re found innocent, you haven’t created an issue where you denied them their money for something the courts say they didn’t do. You avoid grievances and other sticky matters for the NFLPA and NFL to have to dance around.

You also open the door to negotiations with the courts and the NFL. You suddenly are in a hurry to resolve this, because you want back on the football field. So maybe you take a plea, maybe the league outlines a specific plan for you to follow to come back to the league, and you reach an agreement with both the league and the courts, and you get the situation settled in a timely fashion. After all, if you really want to play the game you love, and want to help your team, wouldn’t you want to expedite the process? I guess the issue with this sort of punishment and reaction is you’ll see which guys really only care about that check.

Once the courts have ruled, you can extend the punishment, you can fine them a couple game checks or some other amount, or add to the suspensions. Or, you can consider it time served and chalk it up that way and the whole thing is over.

Don’t think it’s fair they can’t play till then? Too effing bad. Regular people, especially the ones targeted most frequently by law enforcement, get these charges, and they sit, and they sit, and they sit, in jail. They can sit in jail for months waiting on the legal process to play out. And of course, this is because those with the money, and the attorneys, get expedited cases, and preferential treatment.

So other members of society will sit for months waiting to go in front of a judge over a suspended license violation, then be told all they need to do is a pay a fine. Or that their sentence is approximately one fourth the time they spent in jail, but the judge is gracious enough to grant them time served. Never mind the weeks or months spent in jail. Never mind the job lost. Never mind the eviction and repossessions. And yet we’re shocked when they’re back in jail in a few weeks, on more serious charges.

So excuse me, I will not shed one tear, or cry foul one tiny bit because a football player is told he can’t play professional football until his legal matters are settled.

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