ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills running back Marshawn Lynch will miss the first three games of the 2009 regular season after the NFL suspended him without pay for violating its personal-conduct policy.
The league announced the suspension Thursday, one month after Lynch pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor gun charge in Los Angeles. It was Lynch's second run-in with the law, following a hit-and-run accident in Buffalo in May.
The suspension means the Bills will be without their 2007 first-round draft pick for their primetime season opener at New England on Sept. 14. The rest of the Bills' 2009 schedule hasn't been released.
Lynch apologized for his actions and anticipated that he'd be suspended after meeting with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell last month.
Under league rules, the suspension takes effect after the Bills' final preseason game, and Lynch will be allowed to take part in the team's offseason programs, including training camp. Lynch has the option to appeal the ruling.
The player's agent, Doug Hendrickson, wasn't immediately available for comment. The Bills released the following statement: "We fully support the NFL Personal Conduct Policy and believe that Marshawn is committed to conducting himself responsibly. When he spoke to the media recently, he talked about making changes and better decisions and we feel that he is moving forward in a positive direction."
Lynch characterized the meeting with Goodell as a wake-up call and said the commissioner's message had sunk in.
"Something that he stressed throughout the meeting was that he will not tolerate any more screw-ups by me," Lynch said. "I never had the intention of getting into trouble or anything like that. But along the way, my road got rocky, and now you know it's time to set my pavement straight."
Lynch was arrested near Los Angeles on Feb. 11. In searching a parked car carrying Lynch, Culver City police found a 9mm semiautomatic handgun inside a backpack in the trunk. Police also found four marijuana cigarettes in the car, but no drug charges were filed.
Lynch pleaded guilty to having a concealed firearm and was sentenced to 80 hours of community service and three years' probation.
Lynch already has become more active in the Buffalo community. Earlier this week, Lynch and Bills cornerback Terrence McGee provided financial assistance to help sponsor the 18th annual Gus Macker 3-on-3 basketball tournament, which will be held in Buffalo in late June.
"They are really doing something pretty historic," Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said. "Not only are they devoting some of their time, but they are putting up their personal dollars to support the event."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press