Wide Receiver Donte Stallworth of the Cleveland Browns has been suspended for the entire 2009 season by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Stallworth was involved in a drunk driving incident, where he operated a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol and hit a pedestrian. That pedestrian, Mario Reyes was killed in the accident.
While Stallworth served a 30 day jail sentence for this act, and reached an undisclosed financial settlement with the family of Reyes, the NFL felt he still owed a debt to the league. In fact in a letter to Stallworth, Goodell put it rather bluntly, “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.”
Since becoming Commissioner Goodell has implemented a players code of conduct to combat the culture of guns, strip club parties, and even do fighting that is so prevalent among the NFL players. This culture has led to many an arrest, even a murder of an NFL player. It is a public relations problem that Goodell is right to take a hard stance on.
Stallworth signed a 7 year 35 million dollar deal with the Cleveland Browns in 2008. In fact he received a 4.5 million dollar bonus the night before the incident, and he will not forfeit the 745k dollars on his 2009 contract. At this point it is unclear if he will return to the team in 2010.