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Controversial NFL Suspensions & Cases


Edward Matthew Molinar
University of Texas at El Paso

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Abstract
The National Football League is one of the most popular sports in todays world.

Hundreds of thousands of people tune into their televisions to watch their favorite team play.
The players have tons of attention zoned in on them with their every move on and off the field,
depending on the popularity of course. Drug policies are violated, as so many other rules that are
set out for all of the players. Many different cases have occurred with domestic violence, alcohol,
personal conduct, etc. The NFL never seems to get right, the suspension severity with the
violation committed. The purpose of this review is to discuss and analyze the suspensions and
violations of players throughout the league. Discussing whether or not the penalty is severe
enough for the so to say, crime committed.

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Controversial NFL Suspensions & Cases


The National Football League (NFL) was established back in 1920. Needless to say the
organization has been around for quite a while. Throughout the years, the game of football has
changed dramatically. As years pass by, everything seems to become more advanced, more
money is being made & paid throughout the league to different players. The amount of money
being paid to each player depends on the skill set and production of the football player at his
position. The more money being made, the more fame comes along with it. Different players
handle different situations differently than others, but some act as if they are invincible on and
off the field. The same circumstances and consequences apply to them, just as any other human
being. Some feel like since they are so popular in the sports world, nothing will happen to them.
Suspensions have been applied to hundreds of players throughout the years, but the suspension
length vs. the severity of the crime committed that occurred, have not weighed out so evenly.
Controversy has hit the NFL and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell like a wrecking ball
throughout the past couple of years. Roger has been under so much scrutiny; it has him nervous
for his job and has football fans across America filled with anger. Football fans take their favorite
teams and players very seriously and when one or a quantity is not treated fairly, they let their
voices be heard. Now with that being stated, there are numerous examples that reflect the
purpose of this research report. The purpose of this report is to discuss: the
suspensions/violations throughout the NFL, the outcome of the suspensions due to the players
popularity, and finally to discuss the effects the suspensions has on the player, team, and
organization as a whole. KJ Myers, West Virginia University football player, is interviewed to
help aid with subjects talked about throughout the paper.

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1) What actions should team management or the NFL implement to prevent suspensions
(and/or arrests?)
2) How does an NFL players status or popularity affect the length or severity of a
suspension, where justified?
3) What negative affects might a player receive due to suspensions or arrests? 1What
actions should team management or the NFL implement to prevent suspensions (and/or
arrests?)
These questions will be answered and though roughly explained to help the reader have a
better understanding of the purpose of this report.
What actions should team management or the NFL implement to prevent
suspensions (and/or arrests?)
The better you perform as a player, in return, outcomes to more money being made, more
fans cheering you on, and more popularity throughout the NFL and modern world. Controversy
has taken its toll with these situations. When asked Question 1, Kj answered, Maybe some little
programs that actually tell players the risk they will face if they do certain actions. Therefore,
telling them the consequences that are at hand which will make the player less likely to commit a
crime. For example, Defensive End, Greg Hardy of the Dallas Cowboys served a two game
suspension for a domestic violence case. In the report, Hardy physically abused his wife. Men
putting their hands on women do not and should not sit well with todays society. People would
imagine he would serve a rather length penalty for the crime he committed. Although, as stated
before, the suspension length versus the crime committed does not weigh out so evenly. Greg
Hardy only had to sit out two of the sixteen regular season games. This is one of the many cases
that did not sit well with the football world. If not a fan of Hardy, he is seen as disrespectful and

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should not be allowed to play for a long time. If a fan, the crime committed seems to be forgotten
and left in the dust. What he can do for the team is the only thing that matters, just as long as he
plays at a high level. Which in turn, everybody makes mistakes, but when mistakes are severe,
correct punishment needs to be served. Domestic violence is only one of the many situations that
have taken place throughout the NFL. Cases such as substance abuse and DUIs to personal
conduct & team policy regulations are amongst the most popular since 2002.
How does an NFL players status or popularity affect the length or severity of a
suspension, where justified?
Popularity has taken its own toll to the NFL as well. When asked Question 2, KJ Myers
responded, Popularity and status play a big part in suspension because media is everything in
organizations because it brings most of the revenue. So if a player is a social star, a team will
most likely keep that player because he brings attention and media to the team. Most recently,
Tom Brady, quarterback for the New England Patriots was recently involved in a case known as
Deflate gate. Brady, a four time Super Bowl winner and three time Super Bowl MVP is
tremendously popular in the NFL due to his mind-blowing resume. Resumes like his, will obtain
any player a reluctant amount of popularity. Popularity took its toll when Tom Brady was
accuses of blatantly knowing eleven of the twelve game balls used, were deflated a certain
amount to be able to gain advantage over their opponent. From the beginning, Tom received a
four game suspension and the Patriots organization received penalties as well. They received a
$1 million dollar fine and are stripped of their first round pick in 2016 and their fourth round
draft pick in 2017. Knowing his worth and popularity to not only the New England Patriots but
also the NFL as a whole, Tom appealed his suspension. Throughout the off-season, court
hearings were taken place but little to no progress was being made. The Patriots declared their

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back-up quarterback as starter for the first four games, until Tom was eligible to return. But Tom
Brady, being Tom Brady, had his suspension revoked and was eligible to play for the first game
of the season. The NFL was so set on the four game suspension, but had the suspension taken
away from him. Needless to say, the sports world were infuriated, well at least the people who
were not fans of Tom. His fans were ecstatic, knowing their favorite player could play in the
teams season opener. Showing that Tom Brady was allegedly going to serve a four game
suspension for his knowledge on the deflated footballs, but Greg Hardy only served two for
physically abusing his wife, did not add up well. Comparing these two cases have left some
confused as to why the suspension length was issued the way it was to each player. Maybe the
deflated football have to do with the game itself while domestic violence is an off the field issue,
so therefore the severity of the suspensions is not the same. Every one person is entitled to their
own opinion, but tons of controversy and confusion has been made due to the comparison of
suspensions and their lengths versus the severity of the case amongst the player.
Whether popular or not, being allowed to play in the NFL is a blessing amongst itself.
Any active or retired player will undoubtedly agree. There are over 1 million high school football
players and 70,000 NCAA football players; of those 0.08% are drafted into the NFL. The
chances of making it into the NFL are slim to none, with ones probability being at just one
percent. Only the best of the best are drafted, so if one makes it he is obviously more talented
than most. Everybody has skill in the NFL; it all depends on ones work ethic and how much
work you put into being that much better to excel in practice and at games. Although raw talent
has got everybody into the league, some seek an extra edge. An edge, hard work alone cannot
bring to the table. Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) and substance abuse are solely at the
top of the chart when stacked up against other cases. Players do not want to be average and some

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are willing to take illegal steps to be better than everybody on the field. It is not a surprise as to
why they take the drugs, plain and simple, they want to excel more than others. With an average
suspension length of four games, depending on what was consumed and the drug used, will vary.
No player wants to sit back and see another player on their team or separate perform at a higher
level than him. That is why these cases are so common. Out of the 242 cases since 2002, 178 of
them have to deal with PEDs and substance abuse. Over $53 million have been dealt to players
combined as a whole. The money that is fined is most commonly seemed as pocket change to
the players. With the players having multi-million dollar salaries, a few thousand will not even
scratch their bank account. Using PEDs or the act of substance abuse will only take a slight toll
on the player, unless repeated multiple times. As to kids, they might see their favorite player as a
cheater. As to an adult, it is just a shake of the head and back to cheering him on when the player
is eligible to return. It is so common in todays NFL world, that violating those two policies is
saw as a brush off the shoulder to the NFL as a whole and the fans themselves. Players will
always seek an extra advantage, so these violations will continue to occur for a while to come.
What negative affects might a player receive due to suspensions or arrests?
Suspensions, violations, and arrests each contain their own severity of negative effects on
the player(s). When asked Question 3, Kj responded, With a player being suspended or arrested
they make themselves a target and are now at risk of being kicked off the team depending on the
player role with the team. A lot of teams do not like negative attention so if the case is huge then
the organization might cut that player. While some may be minor, others can take a huge toll on
ones career. Off the field arrests and altercation will give the player disadvantages with coaches
and owners of the team. When a player is repeatedly is behaving off the field, the coaches are
aware they cannot hold him reliable to the organization as a whole. Popularity does not weigh as

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much in this category as others. No matter how popular a player is to the team and fans, he is no
worth if he cannot behave on and off the field. If coaches cannot count on the player, he will be
let go indefinitely. One-time offenders have a higher chance of regaining trust with their coaches,
but repeat offenders dig their own hole deeper and deeper. Some players never learn. The effects
on repeat offender take their toll in a wide variety of circumstances. If one team cant count on a
guy, than another why can another. Teams check the background of players and if they see that a
player cant be counted on, their percentage of taking their chance on the guy are slim. Once
being let go by a team, being able to find another team for the player is hard to come by. Either
the player is picked up by a by a below average team, who are in desperate need of a great
player, or the player is just left without a job. If the player is average and not much worth to their
team, then their stakes are at a much higher risk. Back-ups, third and fourth string players who
take part in illegal altercation or any illegal violations, will be cut immediately. The coaches
know they have better players in front of that certain one, so they will not hesitate to let him go.
For Aldon Smith, an all-star defensive end, now for the Oakland Raiders is a prime example of
the information just discussed. He was first drafted by the San Francisco 49ers, but due to
repeated violations was cut from the team. Aldon, involved in a hit-and-run, a DUI charge,
substance abuse policy violation, violence towards a person, jeopardized his career. The 49ers
knew they could not rely on him so they released him. Luckily for Aldon, the Raiders picked him
up and gave him another chance. With the Raiders being a below average team in the NFL,
Aldon is on a short leash. Anything else he does in negative way, could possibly have him
released and without a job in the NFL forever. Needless to say, coaches and owners need to know
they can count on a player. Violating rules will always have a negative effect on a player. Staying

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out of trouble and following the rules is always the best path to take not only as an NFL player,
but anybody with a job.
Conclusion
Violations are going to continue to be committed, small and large, for the rest of
footballs time to come. Nobody is perfect and football players are just as human as anybody
else. To be able to prevent some or most cases from occurring, the NFL needs to make
punishments more severs or at least equal to the crime committed. They need to become more
consistent. Although these actions may never be pursued, football fans across America and the
world will continue to cheer on their favorite team and players. Football will always be around
and so will the fans. Suspensions will all be apart of they journey, but for now better actions need
to be taken amongst the cases in the NFL. Without higher quality actions taken, football will
crumble. The NFL needs to be more consistent to be more successful.

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References

Morris, B. (2014, July 31). The Rate of Domestic Violence Arrests Among NFL Players.
Retrieved from http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/the-rate-of-domestic-violence-arrestsamong-nfl-players/
Melfi, A. (2015, February 3). NFL Longest Suspensions.
Retrieved from http://www.newsday.com/sports/football/nfl-longest-suspensions1.3615713#9
Powell-Morse, A. (2015, February 5). NFL Fines and Suspensions since 2002: Ballers Behaving
Badly.
Retrieved from http://seatsmart.com/blog/nfl-fines/
Doyle, R. (2015, October 15). Bill Simmons Hammers NFLs Deflategate Handling: A Comedy
of Errors.
Retrieved from http://nesn.com/2015/10/bill-simmons-hammers-nfls-deflategatehandling-a-comedy-of-errors/
Irwin, N., Leonhardt D. (2014, September 12). What The Numbers Show About N.F.L Player
Arrests.
Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/13/upshot/what-the-numbers-showabout-nfl-player-arrests.html?_r=1
Florio, M. (2015, September 13). NFL reviewing Aldon Smiths case under substance abuse
policy.
Retrieved from http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2015/09/13/nfl-reviewing-aldonsmiths-case-under-substance-abuse-policy/
Myers, K. Personal communication. (October 20, 2015)

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