|Andrew Weber / US Presswire|
|Bengals RB Cedric Benson is expected play Sunday while appealing a three-game suspension.|
It was reported Thursday that the NFL is suspending Bengals running back Cedric Benson for three games for a misdemeanor assault he committed during the offseason. Did the NFL get this right by suspending Benson, who has been in trouble off the field before? Or is the NFL over-stepping its boundaries by handing out punishment for a crime committed during the lockout?
Lockout put league in awkward situationBy rule, the NFL is right to suspend Benson because he is a repeat offender, especially when it comes to dealing with the law. He hasnât been in any serious trouble but he has found himself in trouble nonetheless. That said, Iâm really not cool on the league locking players out of work, not allowing them to have any contact with team officials, keeping them off grounds and preventing them from all football activity, yet policing them. The NFL has opted not to punish other offenders such as Titans WR Kenny Britt and Steelers WR Hines Ward, so the repeat offender rule clearly is in play. I believe that players â- and all NFL employees â- need to be on their best behavior at all times but to be punished during a time when all other behavior wasnât allowed or recognized -- even good/charitable behavior -- seems a tad odd.
Benson was on slippery slope to begin with
The fact that Benson has been a repeat offender and had a string of incidents probably doesn't work in his favor regardless. He was on a slippery slope and I'm not surprised that the discipline was this stiff. As to whether or not itâs warranted, I'm somewhat torn and don't have a strong opinion either way.
History of trouble made it unavoidableThe NFL under the direction of commissioner Roger Goodell has never hesitated to step in and hand down disciplinary decisions no matter the circumstances. I was not in favor of its actions with Terrelle Pryor based on his college indiscretions (and the Colts' decision to have Jim Tressel serve the same sentence does not make it more palatable to me), but in this case I have no problem with the penalty. Lockout or no lockout, this was not Cedric Benson's first time dealing with trouble. A repeat offender faces consequences in this NFL, so for the league, this was fairly easy to do.
League shouldnât be involved in punishmentThe NFL has really extended its jurisdiction to include crimes and indiscretions that might have occurred during college or during a period when the players were locked out. (And really, I donât know why anybody was surprised the players got into trouble during the lockout â- Ray Lewis all but guaranteed it.)
But should this be the role of the league? We have a judicial system -- flawed as it is -- to take care of that. The NFL has about as much right suspending players as the Meadowlands PD would have arresting Giants players for faking injuries.
Too many inconsistenciesAs I've long said, my complaint with suspensions spurred by perceived violations of the commish's murky Player Conduct Policy is the inconsistency. Can someone please explain why Kenny Britt and Aqib Talib weren't suspended this season? Both of those class acts were charged with violent crimes (and Talib was indicted), yet both were on the field for Week 1. Conversely, Ben Roethlisberger -- whose moral compass and social etiquette may need work -- sat out four games at the start of the 2010 season in spite of never being charged with a crime. Hmm...