Bad Day for the NFL

On Tuesday, a day off for NFL players, the attention of the league turned away from the field and focused on guns and drugs...

When the focus of the NFL world is on guns and drugs, it's a bad day for the league.

Such was the case Tuesday, when seven players received suspensions.

Wide receiver Plaxico Burress, already facing criminal gun charges, was sent home for the season by the Giants. The team announced that Burress had been placed on the reserve/non-football injury list, and also that he had been suspended without pay for the final four games of the regular season.

Around the same time Tuesday, the league finally got around to announcing six suspensions that have been rumored for months. Minnesota defensive linemen Pat Williams and Kevin Williams, New Orleans running back Deuce McAllister and defensive linemen Will Smith and Charles Grant, and Houston long snapper Bryan Pittman were banished for the remainder of the regular season for using a diuretic that is banned under the league's drug-testing policy.

Burress' suspension ends a season in which the Super Bowl hero has seemingly been in constant trouble off the field. The team suspended him for a game earlier this season, and reportedly he has been fined numerous times for rules infractions.

All that was trivial compared to what occurred Saturday, when he accidentally shot himself in the right thigh at a New York nightclub.

An examination by a Giants team doctor Tuesday determined that Burress would need four to six weeks to recover, so the suspension covers the minimum amount of time he'd be out of action. However, moving him onto the reserve/non-football injury list eliminates the possibility Burress could return in the postseason.

It's a move the Giants had to make from a public relations standpoint, as everyone from random talk-show callers to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been decrying Burress' actions. Whether the decision affects the team's chances in the playoffs remains to be seen, but the Giants seem well-equipped to handle the absence of one troubled superstar.

Remember, David Tyree was an obscure Giants reserve before he made arguably the greatest catch in Super Bowl history. Another hero could emerge in Burress' place.

Regarding the diuretic suspensions, the biggest impact will be felt by the Vikings, who lose a pair of imposing defensive tackles. More legal action could be forthcoming on the players' behalf, but it's hard to believe the decision will be reversed.

The players maintain that the banned substance was ingested when they used an over-the-counter diet aid. However, the league's policy is extremely clear that players are responsible for any use of forbidden material -- knowing or unknowing.

Thanks to their unknowing linemen, the Vikings now know they face a much tougher path to the playoffs.


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