Marshawn Lynch is the center of controversy again – and this time he might not get off free.
The Buffalo Bills' starting running back was arrested Wednesday in Culver City, Calif., for possession charges of a concealed firearm. Culver City Police released a brief statement of the arrest Sunday, cueing more off-field drama for Lynch. Last year, Lynch was the center of a hit-and-run investigation on Buffalo's bar strip. His SUV struck a woman on May 31 and sped away.
In the end, Lynch received a slight tap on the wrist, a $100 fine. He eluded criminal charges because the woman his vehicle struck did not sustain serious injuries (bruised hip that needed seven stitches).
But as a repeat offender, Lynch may not be escape harsh punishment from the NFL this time around. With his crime on the record, Lynch may be suspended for violating the league's personal conduct policy. After Plaxico Burress' incident this past year, firearms in the NFL have become a mainstream issue. Burress was arrested on two felony charges in December for accidentally shooting himself in a Manhattan nightclub.
The police report confirmed that Lynch was in possession of the gun.
"A subsequent field investigation led to the discovery of a loaded firearm," the police report said. "The officers determined the gun belonged to Lynch and he was arrested for possession of a concealed firearm."
The Buffalo News reported that Lynch was booked at 7:12 p.m. after the arrest and was released about 90 minutes later on $35,000 bond. Now, the case is up to Culver City's District Attorney.
Like Lynch's case last year, the team isn't saying much.
"We can confirm that Marshawn was arrested in California and has retained an attorney," Bills Vice President of Communications Scott Berchtold said in a statement Sunday. "We are in the process of trying to gather the facts and will not offer a comment while that process is ongoing."
While it is important to avoid knee-jerk reactions to these types of things, the news of Marshawn Lynch's arrest Sunday should not come as a surprise. After last year's tight-lipped brouhaha, none of this should be shocking.
Lynch's hit-and-run was meticulously brushed aside last year. There was no outward punishment for his actions. Just a brief, (apparently) insincere statement from Lynch. No lesson was learned. No accountability was held. The Bills botched an opportunity to take a stand against crime, an opportunity to set a team-wide standard of conduct.
Now, they may pay for it.
Roger Goodell can't afford to let Lynch slip through his grasp this time around. Goodell ignores repeat offenders about as much as Bud Selig thwarted steroid-users. Laying down the law is his obvious trademark. Goodell gave Lynch a pass last May. He won't this time. Doing nothing this time around would make Goodell look foolish after the countless other suspensions he's laid out to repeat offenders.
Buffalo's best offensive weapon will (or should) miss time. This weekend's news shouldn't come as a surprise, either. Even if it was three days after Lynch played in the Pro Bowl.
Rumors swirled of Lynch's off-field trouble in California when Buffalo drafted him. When Lynch fell into the Bills' lap in '07, they inherited a unique talent and a colossal risk. There's a reason many teams like the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts place a concerned emphasis on character. Cases like this can completely disrupt a franchise. Before Burress' 8-mile-stint, the New York Giants were the best team in the league – by far.
And now, Buffalo has another PR nightmare to juggle. Last year – aside from Lynch's hit-and-run – receiver James Hardy allegedly pulled a gun on his dad. And immediately after this season, Ko Simpson was yelling at police in a parking lot.
Four instances equates to a trend. A deeper, engrained problem is growing here.
Maybe it's time the Bills designated an unquestioned general manager that sets a standard for the franchise. Because right now, it's a free-for-all – from a coach that loses 8 of his last 10 games keeping his job to the star running back getting in trouble off the field.
Check in with the BFR all week for more on this developing story...