Thursday, August 13, 2009
Stallworth suspended for 2009
ESPN.com news services
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Donte' Stallworth has been suspended without pay for the 2009 season for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy and its substance abuse policy, the league said Thursday.
Stallworth, 28, who pleaded guilty to DUI manslaughter in Florida in connection with the March 14 crash in which he struck and killed construction worker Mario Reyes, will be reinstated after the Super Bowl in February 2010, the league said.
In a letter to Stallworth made public Thursday, commissioner Roger Goodell said, "I believe that further consequences are necessary" in addition to the punishment handed down by the legal system.
"There is no question that your actions had tragic consequences to an innocent man and his family, and that you have violated both the Substances of Abuse and Personal Conduct Policies," Goodell said. "In that respect, you are clearly guilty of conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the NFL."
"Your conduct endangered yourself and others, leading to the death of an innocent man. The NFL and NFL players must live with the stain that you have placed on their reputations," Goodell said.
Goodell suspended Stallworth indefinitely on June 18, two days after Stallworth pleaded guilty.
On March 14, after Stallworth spent the night drinking at a bar in Miami Beach's Fountainebleau hotel, police said he hit Reyes, a construction crane operator who was rushing to catch a bus after finishing his shift at about 7:15 a.m. ET.
Stallworth told police he flashed his lights in an attempt to warn Reyes, who was not in a crosswalk when he was struck.
Stallworth had a blood-alcohol level of .126 after the crash, well above Florida's .08 limit. Stallworth stopped after the crash and immediately told officers he had hit Reyes. Police estimated Stallworth was driving about 50 mph in a 40 mph zone.
Stallworth was given a 30-day jail sentence, of which he served 24 days, and reached an undisclosed financial settlement with Reyes' family. Besides jail time, Stallworth's sentence included two years of house arrest, eight years of probation and other restrictions.
Stallworth, who met with Goodell earlier this month, said afterward he would live with whatever punishment Goodell handed down.
In a statement he issued on Aug. 6, a day after meeting with Goodell, Stallworth said: "I recognize that there is a difference between the legal standard in my criminal case and the standard to which NFL players are held.
"It is clear that I exercised poor judgment and caused irreparable harm to Mario Reyes, his family, the NFL, its owners, coaches, employees and to my fellow players."
A college star at Tennessee, Stallworth also has played for the New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles and New Orleans Saints. His first year with Cleveland was marred by injuries. He hurt his leg in training camp, which sidelined him for most of the season.
The Browns signed him to a seven-year, $35 million contract in 2008, hoping he could be a complementary No. 2 receiver and take pressure off Braylon Edwards.
But Stallworth never got going because of the injury and made only seven starts. Edwards spent the season dropping important passes and Cleveland finished a disappointing 4-12.