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Goodell lays down the law

WR Stallworth suspended for '09

Associated Press / August 14, 2009

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NFL commissioner Roger Goodell decided Donte’ Stallworth’s football punishment should last much longer than his 24 days in jail.

The Cleveland Browns receiver, who pleaded guilty to killing a pedestrian while driving drunk, was suspended without pay yesterday for the season. He is barred from team activities until he is reinstated after the Super Bowl.

‘‘Your conduct endangered yourself and others, leading to the death of an innocent man,’’ Goodell wrote in a letter to Stallworth released by the league. ‘‘The NFL and NFL players must live with the stain that you have placed on their reputations.’’

Stallworth struck Mario Reyes, 59, the morning of March 14 in Miami. Stallworth pleaded guilty June 16 to DUI manslaughter, a second-degree felony, and was suspended indefinitely by Goodell two days later.

‘‘Regardless of the length of my suspension, I will carry the burden of Mr. Reyes’s death for the rest of my life,’’ Stallworth said in a statement. ‘‘I urge NFL fans not to judge NFL players or me based on my tragic lapse in judgment. I am a good person who did a bad thing. I will use the period of my suspension to reflect, fulfill my obligations, and use this experience to make a positive impact on the lives of those who look up to NFL players.’’

Stallworth, 28, drew a 30-day jail sentence and reached an undisclosed financial settlement with the family of Reyes, who was leaving his job as a crane operator when killed.

Goodell said he didn’t take the sentence into account in determining if Stallworth violated the league’s substance abuse and personal conduct policies. The commissioner held a hearing with Stallworth, his representatives, and union officials Aug. 5. He also met privately with Stallworth Monday at the player’s request.

‘‘As you recognized both at and following the hearing, guilt or innocence as a matter of criminal law is not the same as a violation of NFL policies,’’ Goodell wrote.

Stallworth signed a seven-year, $35 million contract in 2008 and received a $4.5 million roster-signing bonus the night before the crash. He will lose the remaining $745,000 on his deal for 2009.

Redman leads Steelers

Seventh-string running back Isaac Redman, an undrafted rookie from Bowie State playing long after the starters for both Super Bowl teams left the field, scored twice in the fourth quarter as host Pittsburgh beat Arizona, 20-10 ... Joe Flacco led Baltimore to field goals on his only two series, Troy Smith threw a touchdown pass, and 15 Ravens caught passes as the hosts beat punchless Washington, 23-0 ... Bruce Gradkowski engineered three touchdown drives, mostly against Dallas reserves, as the Raiders beat the Cowboys, 31-10, in Oakland, Calif. ... Packers coach Mike McCarthy says the team is close to signing first-round draft pick B.J. Raji. The former Boston College defensive tackle, the ninth overall pick, has held out nearly two weeks ... Receiver Terrell Owens will miss the Bills home preseason game against Chicago tomorrow because of a sprained toe that has prevented him from practicing all week. Coach Dick Jauron ruled Owens out after practice, saying the team doesn’t want to take any chances. Owens jammed the toe in a 21-18 loss to Tennessee Sunday ... Coach Mike Singletary is going with Shaun Hill as the 49ers’ starting quarterback for their exhibition opener tonight against the Broncos, yet insisted this is no hint whatsoever who will be under center come the regular season ... The Colts signed running back Walter Mendenhall, brother of Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall, and defensive end Rudolph Hardie to replace them ... Seahawks tackle Walter Jones took part in drills after not practicing since the first day of training camp because of a sore back.

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