Commissioner Roger Goodell ruled on Tennessee cornerback Adam 'Pacman' Jones and Cincinnati wide receiver Chris Henry, and the stiff punishment sent shockwaves throughout the NFL community.
Jones, an incredibly talented corner and electrifying kick returner, received a one-year suspension for his many runs afoul of the law. He has apparently been questioned by police 10 times since entering the league in 2005, and it has been rumored that the number is even higher. The latest incident revolves around a shooting at a Las Vegas strip club during NBA All-Star Weekend that left one man paralyzed.
Henry, a gifted wideout with a nose for the end zone, was suspended for eight games. The Bengals were the laughingstock of the league last year with nine players being arrested in a nine-month span, and Henry was the most notable offender. He was most recently picked up for a routine traffic violation and driving on a suspended license, but he has also faced gun charges, drug charges, and recently pled guilty to providing alcohol to minors.
In a letter sent to both Jones and Henry, Goodell left little room for interpretation:
"Your conduct has brought embarrassment and ridicule upon yourself, your club, and the NFL, and has damaged the reputation of players throughout the league. You have put in jeopardy an otherwise promising NFL career and have risked both your own safety and the safety of others through your off-field actions. In each of these respects, you have engaged in conduct detrimental to the NFL and failed to live up to the standards expected of NFL players. Taken as a whole, this conduct warrants significant sanction."
Goodell then released a statement warning that the entire league has been put on notice.
"We must protect the integrity of the NFL. The highest standards of conduct must be met by everyone in the NFL because it is a privilege to represent the NFL, not a right. These players, and all members of our league, have to make the right choices and decisions in their conduct on a consistent basis."
Perhaps the most important aspect of all this is the fact that the NFL Players Association seems to be backing the new Commissioner 100%. We've seen in Major League Baseball how its players union has consistently lessened penalties handed down by the Commissioner's Office, providing further evidence that Bud Selig is afraid to take on Donald Fehr and his minions because he doesn't think he can win. However, it's been reported that some very vocal members of the NFLPA were in favor of banning Jones and Henry from the league permanently.
The Bears now have to worry about a tougher-than-expected penalty for Johnson, who is currently serving a 120-day jail sentence for parole violation.
Johnson is currently atop the depth chart at defensive tackle alongside All-Pro Tommie Harris, but the Monsters of the Midway have to start getting their contingency plan in place. Before Tuesday's ruling by Goodell, the team was probably forecasting Johnson being suspended for no more than four games. A harsh punishment, but manageable nonetheless.
Now it appears Johnson will get at least eight games like Henry and could conceivably be banned for the entire season like Jones.
GM Jerry Angelo made no effort to re-sign either Alfonso Boone or Ian Scott, a pair of veteran defensive tackles who have provided depth at the position over the years. Boone is now in Kansas City, while Scott has entertained offers from the likes of Atlanta and Minnesota among others. Anthony Adams was signed away from San Francisco, but he is an undersized player and probably not suited to be a starter.
Angelo selected Dusty Dvoracek from Oklahoma in the third round just a year ago, although he spent all of 2006 on injured reserve after foot surgery. He is fully recovered and in the best shape of his life thanks to diligent work with strength and conditioning coordinator Rusty Jones, but he is still yet to see action in a regular season NFL game. Asking him to step into the starting lineup right away may be a little bit presumptuous.
If I had to make a guess at this point, I'd say Johnson gets an eight-game suspension as opposed to an entire year. His many transgressions have been well documented, but unlike Jones, he has made a concerted effort to turn his life around and sounded contrite when given the opportunity to speak about his situation. His teammates have come to his defense repeatedly, and head coach Lovie Smith continues to say that Johnson will pay his debt to society and be welcomed back to the organization with open arms.
Hopefully for Johnson, Goodell has been paying attention.
Because apparently, "Blue horseshoe loves stiff suspensions."
|John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and Editor in Chief of BearReport.com. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.|