J.Lewis suspended for two games

OWINGS MILLS -- Baltimore Ravens star running back Jamal Lewis was suspended for two games without pay Friday along with an additional two weeks' salary for violating the NFL substance-abuse policy.

Lewis pleaded guilty on Thursday in Atlanta to federal charges of using a telephone in June of 2000 to facilitate the sale of cocaine to co-defendant Angelo "Pero" Jackson. Under the NFL's substance-abuse policy, a drug-related violation of law is grounds for league discipline.

He'll still play Sunday night against the Washington Redskins.
The disciplinary action imposed by NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue will cost Lewis $761,000 in salary. Under league rules, the suspension doesn't take effect until the appeals process has concluded.

If Lewis declines to appeal, which he has indicated he will not, the suspension will begin Oct. 14. If he appeals, a hearing will be held at the NFL office in New York on Monday.

Here are excerpts from Tagliabue's letter to Lewis:
"The telephone conversations relating to the other individual's possible purchase of drugs occurred on or about June 23, 2000. Although the underlying circumstances were known to the government almost immediately, you were not charged with any offense until February, 2004, nearly four years later. The conversation did, however, occur after you had been drafted, attended one of the Ravens' minicamps and while your agent was in the process of negotiating an NFL contract for you."

"According to the court record, your specific offense involved one phone call to introduce a prospective seller of cocaine who had recently been introduced to you by others (and, who, unbeknowst to you, was an undercover government informant) to a prospective buyer of cocaine. The proposed sale was to be to your co-defendant, who you knew to be interested in purchasing cocaine."

"At no time did you possess, sell, attempt or sell, finance or offer to finance the distribution of cocaine or any other illegal drug. You did not request or expect to receive any money from any sale of cocaine. In fact, no drugs were ever bought or sold, whether by you or any other party to the proposed sale."

"None of this is meant to diminish the seriousness of your guilty plea to a federal felony. You have needlessly sullied your own reputation and reinforced unfair and negative public perceptions of NFL players generally. The consequences of your poor judgment include incarceration, suspension from the NFL and the loss of $761,000 in salary. The longer term damage to your own reputation may well be even greater."

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times and RavensInsider.Com

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