12/03/08 — Opinion -- Goodell has chance to make statement with Burress case

View Archive

Opinion -- Goodell has chance to make statement with Burress case

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on December 3, 2008 1:46 PM

Growing up the middle child between two sisters I often heard the phrase from my parents we all heard at least once during childhood when on the verge of discipline: "this is going to hurt me a lot more than it's going to hurt you."

That same phrase could very well apply to the next year or so of Roger Goodell's reign as NFL Commissioner.

After New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress shot himself in the leg with a handgun on the early hours of Saturday morning inside the Latin Quarter, a nightclub in Manhattan, Goodell now finds himself in a rather precarious position.

Burress is charged with two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon he did not have a license to carry. One count accuses him of possessing a loaded handgun with the intent to use it against another.

The other charge was that he possessed a loaded gun outside his home or place of business.

Burress is currently out on bail and scheduled to appear in court again on March 31. Upon conviction, both penalties call for a mandatory minimum sentence of 31/2 years in prison and a maximum of 15 years.

According to the NFL's personal conduct policy any player that is convicted of or admits to a criminal violation (including a plea to a lesser offense) will be subject to discipline as determined by the Commissioner. Such discipline may include a fine, suspension without pay and/or banishment from the League.

Goodell typically waits for the legal process to run its course before handing down his own disciplinary measures. Should Burress be convicted, Goodell would have an opportunity to give the Giants and the NFL a family-sized bottle of pain killers to relieve what's been a rapidly growing headache in the form of Burress.

Since signing with the Giants from Pittsburgh in 2005, Burress has seemingly been a walking train wreck fueled by self-centeredness.

In May of 2005, a warrant for Burress was issued after he failed to pay $90,000 in back taxes in Moon Township, Pa., near Pittsburgh. His lawyer calls it "a misunderstanding."

Police have been called to Burress' home twice since June for domestic disturbances and he's been suspended, benched or fined five different times since joining the Giants for being late to or missing team meetings or treatment for injuries.

Dallas Cowboys cornerback and kick returner Adam "Pacman" Jones has been arrested six times and been involved in 13 incidents involving police since being drafted by the Tennessee Titans in 2005. Despite his preference for jumpsuits over jerseys and prison cells over locker rooms, Jones was reinstated two weeks ago for the second time this season and is eligible to play this Sunday.

Jones was suspended for six games on Oct. 14 after being involved in an alcohol-related scuffle with one of his own body guards at a party at a Dallas hotel. The former West Virginia University star was suspended for the entire 2007 season for his accumulation of arrests and legal issues. Goodell fumbled away a golden opportunity to send a message to the rest of the NFL and its own image problems by pulling the plug on Pacman when he had the chance.

Michael Vick is scheduled to be released from prison in July of next year on federal dogfighting charges and has already expressed interest in returning to the league. Goodell will once again be faced with the choice of protecting the image of the league or folding under the pressure of over-paid lawyers and player reps.

Claude Adrien Helvetius once said "Discipline is simply the art of making the soldiers fear their officers more than the enemy."

It's time for Roger Goodell to make his soldiers fall in line.