NFL suspends Stallworth
Published 4:19 am Friday, June 19, 2009
Cleveland Browns receiver Donte’ Stallworth was indefinitely suspended by the NFL on Thursday for driving drunk and killing a pedestrian in Miami.
“The conduct reflected in your guilty plea resulted in the tragic loss of life and was inexcusable,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a letter to Stallworth.
“While the criminal justice system has determined the legal consequences of this incident, it is my responsibility as NFL commissioner to determine appropriate league discipline for your actions, which have caused irreparable harm to the victim and his family, your club, your fellow players and the NFL,” Goodell said.
Stallworth, who will not be paid during the suspension, pleaded guilty this month to a DUI manslaughter charge for striking Mario Reyes on March 14. He began serving a 30-day jail sentence Tuesday and has reached a financial settlement with the family of the 59-year-old construction worker.
After jail, Stallworth must serve two years of house arrest and spend eight years on probation. The house arrest provisions would allow him to play.
Goodell said that, eventually, he would contact Stallworth’s representatives before determining the length of the suspension.
“There is no reasonable dispute that your continued eligibility for participation at this time would undermine the integrity of and public confidence in our league,” Goodell said.
Browns general manager George Kokinis said in a statement: “We support the action taken by the commissioner today and will continue to work closely with the league regarding this matter.”
The NFL Players Association had no comment.
The last player indefinitely suspended by the league was Adam “Pacman” Jones of the Dallas Cowboys in October 2008. However, that punishment turned into a six-week ban.
After a night drinking at a bar in Miami Beach’s Fountainebleau hotel, police said Stallworth hit Reyes, who was rushing to catch a bus after finishing work about 7:15 a.m. Stallworth told police he flashed his lights in an attempt to warn Reyes, who was not in a crosswalk when struck.
Stallworth, who stopped after the crash and reported the accident, had a blood-alcohol level well above Florida’s legal limit. Police estimated Stallworth was driving about 50 mph in a 40 mph zone.
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle cited Stallworth’s cooperation and willingness to accept responsibility as factors in the plea deal. Rundle also said the Reyes family — particularly the victim’s 15-year-old daughter — wanted the case resolved.
Stallworth must undergo drug and alcohol testing. His driver’s license was suspended for life and he must perform 1,000 hours of community service.
Stallworth signed a seven-year, $35 million contract with the Browns before last season but was injured much of the year, finishing with 17 catches for 170 yards and a touchdown. The Tennessee college star has also played in the NFL for New England, Philadelphia and New Orleans.
The night before the crash, Stallworth earned a $4.5 million roster bonus from the Browns, whose offseason moves indicated they were not counting on him.
They added free-agent wide receiver David Patten this spring as protection and then drafted Ohio State’s Brian Robiskie and Georgia’s Mohamed Massaquoi. Patten is in his second stint with the club after stops in New Orleans, the New York Giants, New England and Washington.
The Browns also released receiver Joe Jurevicius three days before the accident.