Different animal

Nick Barnett should be disciplined by the NFL for his recent actions at a nightclub, but PackerReport.com correspondent Dylan Tomlinson says that there is a big difference between the incident involving the Packers linebacker and other thugs around the league.

The NFL is filled with unsavory characters.

Nick Barnett is not one of them.

It's impossible to turn on ESPN without hearing about the latest exploits of Adam "Pacman" Jones, Tank Johnson, Michael Vick, Chris Henry, or the majority of the Cincinnati Bengals' roster.

NFL players have gotten in enough trouble that popular website Pro Football Talk actually runs a "Turd Watch" to chart all of the arrests. Fans can even keep track of how their favorite teams have fared during the off-season.

One of the best things Roger Goodell has done since taking over as commissioner is to crack down on the off-the-field antics of NFL players. Previously, if players were arrested, the only discipline the players faced was through the legal system. Now, under Goodell's guidance players know that if they get in trouble, they face a suspension.

For the most part, Packers players have done a pretty good job of staying out of trouble, but that changed a little more than a week ago when Barnett was arrested after allegedly shoving a woman at an Appleton nightclub.

I'm not going to use this column space to apologize for Barnett. If there's any player on the Packers' roster who should know how to act in a nightclub, it's Barnett, who used to own Club 56 in Green Bay.

If Barnett pushed or shoved a woman, he is in the wrong, even if he was provoked. Various reports state that Barnett had a drink thrown in his face before the incident. Even if that's true, Barnett knows enough to walk away.

Goodell is absolutely right to hold NFL players to a higher standard of behavior than the previous regime. Under Paul Tagliabue's direction, players could seemingly do whatever they wanted and as long as they didn't fail a drug test, they would rarely face suspensions. Former Packers running back Ahman Green was arrested multiple times for domestic disturbances, but never was in danger of facing a suspension like Barnett.

Perhaps the reason Barnett's arrest is garnering so much attention is that he is one of the last players in that locker room that one would expect to be in this type of altercation. When Green was arrested a few years ago, nobody was surprised. When a player like former Packer Ahmad Carroll was arrested a few months ago, nobody was surprised. But Barnett is one of the most friendly and affable players in the Packers' locker room, so when his name is at the top of a police report, everybody is pretty shocked.

While Goodell should be applauded for cracking down on something that has been a problem for some time, let's hope that the NFL crackdown is able to separate the major and the minor offenses. Barnett made a mistake, but he doesn't deserve to be forever lumped with the Pacman Joneses and Tank Johnsons of the NFL. Barnett's actions may merit discipline, but a suspension would seem more than a bit excessive.

Dylan Tomlinson

Dylan Tomlinson is a frequent contributor to PackerReport.com. E-mail him at dylan1226@gmail.com.

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