Due process takes hit in NFL

I can't decide: Is new NFL commissioner Roger Goodell pandering to the public, or merely grandstanding? Pardon me for failing to fall into lockstep with the prevailing opinion that Goodell's get-tough-on-crime ... Full Story
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Carey from Carmel

Louisville, KY

#65 Apr 13, 2007
Bob-You raise a good point about the new NFL Commissioner Goodell annointing himself with the approval of the NFLPA as the judge, jury and one responsible for sentencing in the new "guilty once accussed until proven innocent" NFL guidelines.

This zero tolerance policy is sure to be tested in the civil courts of law once the falsely accused players agents and lawyers start suing for damages to a players reputation, lost wages and diminished career earnings after a false accusation is disproved in criminal court.

That is the danger of handing out a "convicted" punishment BEFORE one is proven guilty without the "presumption of innocence" defendants are entitled to outside of the NFL. Players no longer have to be found guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt"-just to Goodell's satisfaction.

As hard as it is to wait "while the criminal investigation is being conducted" sometimes-we would all want the same presumption of innocence if we were in the "offender's" shoes looking at losing our career on an unsubstantiated accusation as determined by the NFL Commissioner!

This dangerous precedent will surely be challenged soon under multiple possible scenarios!
Proud Black and Educated

Indianapolis, IN

#66 Apr 13, 2007
Dr Bruce McGillicuddy wrote:
"It is what 21-25 year old guys do for their younger girlfriends."
Proud, Black, and Educated...listen, some of the people he gave alcohol to couldn't even drive. So if you were dating 15 year olds when you were 25 you should be arrested also. Them's the rules.
Go and read his bio. Do some research on Henry and you'll see he's already been arrested for guns; for DUIs; and for marijuana possession - all illegal activities. He's already served time and he's been in trouble since college for everything under the sun.
I'm all about equal rights and looking the other way. But when I look the other way so much I get whiplash it gets really old, really fast. I feel bad for these guys, but at least they have an opportunity to come back and prove to everyone they're not so bad. Most workplaces, if not all, don't afford this opportunity.
From what I understand he didn't actually give the 15 year-old liquor. What happened was he gave a group of legal (over 18 year old girls liquor) and then spent some time alone with one of them. While this was happening the other girls had some friends come and gave them liquor. Bad incident but you would be up here crying if a 4.0 student was kicked out of college for the same incident, especially when he didn't know the girl was under age.(I know way to many people with fake IDís). Consequently in Indiana the girl (I think she was 16 not 15) would have been able to consent to sex with him, he just couldn't buy her a beer first. What a great country; you can ruin your credit at 18, vote, go off to die in Iraq, get paid millions to play basketball, but you're not mature enough to drink.
John

Irving, TX

#67 Apr 13, 2007
This is really scary. Essentially, what you all are saying is that if I get arrested for something that I didn't do, you think my employer should fire me. That could happen to any of you on any given day. I don't care what your occupation is. You can be an NFL player, a teacher, or a police officer. In most cases, people are placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. In the case of the NFL, it sounds like if a player gets arrested they will get suspended immediately without pay. I think that is absurd. I've been around athletes enough to know that they are a target no matter where they go. If a crazed fan is at the same bar as a pro athlete, they will try to pick fights with them and antagonize them. The player could just be defending themselves and get arrested. Under the new NFL policy, the player would be suspended without pay. How would you like to get jumped somewhere and get arrested for defending yourself and then get suspended without pay or fired from your job? Would you think it was fair then? I know some of you are going to say not to put yourself in that position. But face it, most pro athletes are in their 20s. People who are in their 20s hang out in clubs and bars. That does not mean they are bad people or that they cannot be responsible and perform well in their jobs. That's what people in their 20s do.
Ralph

United States

#68 Apr 13, 2007
How many NFL players have been suspended unfairly?
nate

Eden Prairie, MN

#69 Apr 13, 2007
This is the worst article I've ever read from you
Dr Bruce McGillicuddy

Alexandria, IN

#70 Apr 13, 2007
I don't care about race, age, education level, or background. Chris Henry might've been a 4.0 student - I have no idea. The fact of the matter is that this guy has a rap sheet. And it's not one of those where we think he did stuff - he's been caught and done time. So I KNOW he's done illegal stuff.

I'm sure these guys, somewhere along the line, have signed something saying they're going to be good guys while playing in the NFL. The fact of the matter is, they haven't.

When you get arrested for a DUI while wearing your team jersey, that's both dumb and an insult to the NFL. When you buy alcohol for people that may or may not be able to drive but definitely aren't old enough to drink, that's still illegal.

Like I said, looking the other way once or twice is fine. But this isn't once or twice. These guys need help. They're not just being suspended. They're also being sent to different kinds of meetings to help them out. They obviously need it. If they continue on the right path, slash their suspension in half. Somewhere along the line, though, you have to make a point. And sadly, they were the point in this case.
Rich from Greenfield

United States

#71 Apr 13, 2007
When I worked in Dallas several years ago 2 male twenty-somethings visited a strip club on a Saturday night. Their own time, their own business right? As they were leaving this establishment they saw an altercation occurring between a young man and women and one of the twenty-somethings stepped in to defend the young lady. He was killed for his efforts. The next day in the Dallas Morning News the incident was reported in it's entirety including the names of the two twenty-somethings and where they were employed. When the surviving twenty-something arrived at work on monday morning, grieving over his friend, he was handed the contents of his desk and escorted off the premises. You see, he had, through an erro in judgement represented his company in a negative light. When he was hired he signed a personal coduct policy and that policy was enforced. There was no guilt or inncence implied. he had merely failed to exercise good judgement and was penalized for it. The same country that gives us individual rights to pursue a living and lifestyle equal to our education and abilities also gives a business the right to determine if an individual is suitable for employment in their company. How is the NFL any different?
ColtFan

Sioux Falls, SD

#72 Apr 13, 2007
Bob,
As a member of the US Air Force i have to abide by a code of conduct that is more stringent than the NFL. One DUI and we can be discharged, if you get a second chance and receive even a minor infraction your gone. and trust me we in the military dont get 1-5 million a year. The NFL is not a right for these players. If the policy was some darn strict Rhodes would have been suspended as well. I think that shows that the NFL is only going to hit the real offenders of this policy.
Indyjonny in ATL

Orlando, FL

#73 Apr 13, 2007
Jerry Bultemeyer wrote:
Bob Kravitz,
It is people like you, who have a forum to express your views, that are the ALMIGHTY in determining what is news. You GENERATE and ORIGINATE the news, but I don't believe that your OPINION, is what the readers want to hear. Just REPORT!!! If you want your OPINION heard, then write a letter to the editors just like the rest of community. GET OFF YOUR SOAP BOX.
thats why it's called a sports EDITORIAL!
bill

Boulder, CO

#75 Apr 13, 2007
People who don't understand due process should not refer to it in their replies. It exposes their ignorance.
Rich from Greenfield

Newark, OH

#76 Apr 13, 2007
According to the American Heritage Dictionary:
due process
n. An established course for judicial proceedings or other governmental activities designed to safeguard the legal rights of the individual.
Don't see any reference to business or business policies. I believe the NFL IS a business and not a government agency.
So Bill, how would you define 'due process'?
Rich S

AOL

#77 Apr 13, 2007
Apparently you have no experience with the judicial system and due process. Attorneys can push judgments out over years before resolution. Your solution would be like suspending the player after they retired.
It is difficult enough to get the Attorney general or prosecutor to take any interest in criminal event let alone a civil event.
I doubt that Goodell will act if their is reasonable doubt.
AtownWISCO

Green Bay, WI

#78 Apr 13, 2007
The S. Jackson analogy is completely legit. For the people that are bashing this column, you must not have heard about the DUKE LACROSSE TEAM...Goodell is playing the role of Mike Niphong, not letting the court system do it's job. The players were innocent but they were guilty in the public's eye. If Goodell falsely penalizes someone for something they didn't do, he obviously didn't learn anything from the Durham, NC mishap.
omitchjr1

Owensboro, KY

#79 Apr 13, 2007
I for one agree the Union is making a big mistake.
Sandtrap

United States

#80 Apr 14, 2007
In theory, there may be a "slippery slope;" in practice, I doubt it.

The reason is simple: there are a lot of attenuating circumstances that will lead to a player's suspension for a violation of the personal code of conduct. First, there's the player's advisory committee that will probably be more sympathetic to the player than the league.

Second, the teams will have a point of view. Do you really think the Titans or Bengals are more likely to win with Pacman, or with Chris Henry, than without? Ask yourself what it would mean to the Colts if Roger Goodall was thinking about suspending Peyton Manning - do you think the Colts would be saying "good idea."

Third, Roger has to think about the good of the league. He won't keep his job if he's quick to suspend a player, or fine a team and it later comes out that that action was unjustified and (gasp!) hurt the cash-cow that is the NFL.

I take a more cynical view of the whole cloth of events. Sure, some players and owners are upset about the image, or moral conduct, or propriety of these players, and darn it, they needed to be shown this behavior is unacceptable.

The bottom line, though, is that everyone is thinking in the long term. If the league continues to tolerate bad boys and doesn't enact and enforce a strong personal conduct policy then the cash-cow that is the NFL will soon go the way of the NBA.
Joel

Hershey, PA

#81 Apr 14, 2007
I think that you are missing the point, Bob. The sorts of situations that you express concern about would not happen if the players were to avoid shady situations in the first place. You write as though any player who gets in bar brawl or a strip-club incident is completely a victim. Each player is such a situation made a conscious decision to go to such shady places, fully aware that what goes on there or even could go on there could be trouble. They then decided not to walk away from an impending situation, but rather to confront and often further antagonize a situation.
I think what Commissioner Goodell is trying to communicate is that if you want to have the privilege of representing the NFL on the field (and in your bank account), then you must bear up the responsibility that comes with that privilege.
In short, if you never go to the strip-club in the first place, you won't ever be caught in a strip club incident. Simple as that.
Michael Hart

Indianapolis, IN

#82 Apr 14, 2007
I see a tremendous amount of
bad judgement, which includes being at the wrong place at the wrong time, Hanging out with the wrong people, carrying handguns or other weapons.
I expect our professional athlets to adhear to a higher standard than the common joe we read about in the newspaper day after day.
Michael

Perrysburg, OH

#83 Apr 15, 2007
Mike wrote:
Roger Goodell is completely correct! Players that are caught red-handed should be dealt with immediately. Talk of due process is ridiculous. Can you tell me why you need due process when someone is caught red-handed and 100% guilty?!?! It's a completely waste of time.
The judicial system should do the same thing. It absolutely drives me nuts that people who commit crimes and that are caught red-handed and obviously 100% guilty are given due process. Why is that? I don't want to hear any crap about civil liberties and rights. As far as I'm concerned you gave those up the minute you committed the crime. There should not be trials for people caught doing anything. Just go straight to punishment. Do not waste the time of the judicial system or the taxpayers money. If you're caught doing something, then you should just be sentenced. Trials should be only used if you didn't catch someone red-handed and then needed to piece together a puzzle to show guilt.
Um, because I carried a small blade into an airport that was part of a teacher's supply kit. I had flown with it before and had forgotten it in my bag. I did not check that bag that day, because I was running late. I guess instead of being allowed to fly home for Thanksgiving, I should have been fined $1000 on the spot and spent 93 days in jail?

I'm grateful for due process.
Mark Wilson

Holton, KS

#84 Apr 15, 2007
Sorry but when you have 10 incidents since you have been drafted you have to learn. If I am not mistaken the NFLPA gets 60 % of this multi billion dollar industry. Protecting it's interest is very important.
cwe

Indianapolis, IN

#85 Apr 18, 2007
Interesting that Bob would champion due process and "innocent until proven guilty" on the same day his bosses at the Star published the name and address of a SUSPECTED rapist. Turns out if he's innocent, his name, his ability to support his family, his reputation are all destroyed too. I agree with the Star's policy of not providing names of victims, but why do they openly publish names of suspects? Sure, there's evidence, but the guilt has yet to be proven.

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