Sports Law Blog
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Monday, June 15, 2009
Will Roger Goodell Let Plaxico Burress Play?
I have a new column on SI.com, here's an excerpt:
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In [Drew] Rosenhaus' defense, Goodell has thus far declined to sanction Burress, who faces criminal charges for the Latin Quarter Club incident that occurred last November. Although the Giants suspended Burress for the last four games of the 2008 season, Goodell has not sanctioned Burress. If Burress wasn't deserving of a punishment while he awaited a trial scheduled for June, why should a mere delay in the trial suddenly make him more deserving?
Plus, Goodell has normally waited for the disposition of players' legal woes before imposing a punishment. He waited for Michael Vick's guilty plea in 2007, for instance, and did the same for Tank Johnson, who pled guilty to misdemeanor weapon charges, also in 2007. Likewise, Goodell declined to sanction Randy Moss in January 2008 after a restraining order was issued against him. Although he is not obligated to adopt a "presumption of innocence" standard when sanctioning players, Goodell has generally done so.* * *
Goodell is also not bound by his own precedent, meaning he need not follow a particular script or set of rules gleamed from his earlier punishments. He also needn't worry about his decision to punish being reversed or modified on appeal: under the policy, any appeal goes right back to him.
. . . Goodell, son of the late U.S. Senator Charles Goodell (R-NY) and son-in-law of former White House Chief of Staff Sam Skinner, might be attune to the unusually politicized dynamics of Burress' case. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a leading advocate of the law used to prosecute Burress, has stressed that Burress should be prosecuted "to the fullest extent of the law" for otherwise there could be "a sham, a mockery of the law." Should Goodell allow Burress to sign a multimillion dollar contract with a team, particularly with the nearby New York Jets, it may be viewed disapprovingly by the Mayor.
* * *To read the rest, click here.