In conjunction with his indefinite suspension of Cleveland Browns wide receiver Donte' Stallworth on Thursday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a strongly-worded letter to high-ranking officials of every team to advise all employees -- players and likewise -- that alcohol-related crimes will not be tolerated.
Stallworth suspended indefinitely
In the letter, obtained by NFL.com, Goodell stated: "In the past few years, I have not hesitated to impose discipline, including suspension, on club and league employees who have violated the law relating to alcohol use. Every club should advise its employees of their obligation and our commitment to hold people accountable for alcohol-related violations of the law.
"Please ensure that your employees are aware of the resources available to them, including Safe Ride and similar programs. Let's make sure that the 2009 season does not bring more tragedy or embarrassment to ourselves and our employees."
Safe Ride is a driving service available to players and league employees.
The letter was addressed to chief executives, club presidents, general managers and head coaches. Attached to the letter was the press release announcing Goodell's indefinite suspension of Stallworth, without pay.
Chuck Hurley, CEO of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), issued a statement in response to Goodell's actions, saying, "MADD applauds the leadership of Roger Goodell and the NFL for sending the clear message the court failed to send in the Stallworth case: drunk driving is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Commissioner Goodell's leadership is an example to the nation."
Stallworth reached a plea agreement in Miami earlier this week on a DUI Manslaughter charge for killing pedestrian Mario Reyes on a causeway between Miami Beach and Miami in March. Stallworth was sentenced to 30 days in jail, 10 years probation and had his driver's license indefinitely suspended. Stallworth reached a financial settlement with the family of Reyes.
The 30-day sentence sparked widespread outrage. Stallworth's actions also drew the rebuke of Goodell, who said loss of life stemming from Stallworth driving drunk was "inexcusable" and "the conduct that led to your conviction plainly violates both the Personal Conduct and Substances of Abuse policies."
Goodell's swift determination to suspend Stallworth falls in line with previous cases, including that of former Falcons quarterback Michael Vick. Goodell suspended Vick indefinitely shortly after Vick reached an agreement to plead guilty in 2007 for his role in a federal dogfighting ring. Vick is serving out the final weeks of his 23-month prison sentence under home confinement in Virginia.