The NFL’s Most Notable Suspensions

Quarterback Deshan Watson was suspended for six games on Monday for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy and closing the league’s 15-month investigation into sexual misconduct claims made against him by more than two dozen women. However, the fine was not imposed.

It was the first NFL player disciplinary decision to be governed by an arbitration process established in the 2020 Collective Bargaining Agreement, which sought to strengthen a system that had been criticized for discrepancies and potential conflicts of interest.

Since Roger Goodell became NFL commissioner in 2006, he has taken a tougher stance on player punishment than his predecessors, imposing some of the longest player suspensions in league history. The Personal Conduct Policy includes provisions for punishing players even if their offenses did not result in a criminal conviction.

But while Goodell once exercised unilateral power in disciplinary action, policy revisions over the past decade have shifted some of the process to third parties. Watson’s penalty was imposed by a retired federal judge jointly approved by the league and the players’ union. But Goodell, or someone he appoints, will still have the final word if the league appeals the decision.

Here are some of the most notable suspensions of NFL players during Goodell’s tenure as commissioner:

  • Michael Vick. vic, A former Atlanta quarterback was suspended indefinitely in 2007 for his role in a dogfighting scandal. The suspension lasted two seasons; Vick was reinstated ahead of the 2009 season after serving an 18-month prison sentence.

  • Alden Smith. Smith, a defensive end who played for San Francisco and Oakland, was suspended in 2015 for a substance abuse policy violation (he was charged with drunk driving). The suspension lasted until Smith was signed and reinstated by Dallas in 2020.

  • Dominic Rhodes. Rhodes, a running back who played for several teams, was suspended indefinitely in 2011 after failing a third drug test. He was reinstated in 2014.

  • Jarrell Freeman. Freeman, a linebacker, was suspended twice for as many games in 2016 and 2017 with Chicago after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. The NFL suspended him for two years in 2018 for another failed test, although he had announced his retirement before the suspension. ,

  • Adam (Pacman) Jones. Jones, in a corner with Tennessee, was He was suspended for the 2007 season after several arrests, including his role in a fight at a strip club that led to the shooting of three men.

  • Calvin Ridley. Ridley, an Atlanta receiver, was suspended for at least a year after betting on NFL games while away from the team during the 2021 season.

  • Deontay Stallworth. Stallworth, then a Cleveland receiver, was suspended for the entire 2009 season after he hit and killed a pedestrian while drunk driving in Miami Beach. He confessed to the crime of murder.

  • Darren Waller. In 2017, Waller, then a Baltimore tight end, was suspended for at least a year for violating a substance abuse policy. He was suspended for four matches in the 2016 season for the same violation. He was reinstated in 2018.

  • Martavis Bryant. Bryant, a receiver, was suspended in 2016 for at least a year for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. After being conditionally reinstated in April 2017, Bryant was suspended indefinitely in 2018 for violating the terms of the reinstatement.

  • Travis Henry. In 2008, Henry, then a Denver running back, was suspended for at least a year after testing positive for marijuana for the third time. Before the completion of his suspension, Henry was sentenced to three years in prison for funding a drug operation. The NFL reinstated him in 2012.

  • Josh Gordon. Gordon, currently a Kansas City receiver, has been suspended six times for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, including a suspension for the entire 2015 season. He was recently suspended in January 2021 and reinstated in September 2021.

  • Hey rice. Rice was initially suspended for two games by the NFL following his arrest on domestic violence charges in July 2014. Two months later, after TMZ released another graphic video of the attack, which showed Rice knocking her fiancé unconscious in a hotel elevator, Baltimore issued a running back and the NFL suspended him indefinitely by Rice. After the first 12 weeks of the 2014 season, he was reinstated on 28 November, but he was never signed by a team.

  • Vantage Blizzard. An Oakland linebacker, Burfitt was suspended for the remainder of the 2019 season after his helmet-to-helmet hit Indianapolis tight end Jack Doyle in a Week 4 game. Burfitt’s penalty, the NFL’s longest suspension to date for on-field actions, takes into account his long history of violations of the league’s player safety policies.

  • Josh Brent: In 2013 for his role in the drunk-driving death of Dallas teammate, Brent, a defensive tackle, was suspended for 10 games of the 2014 season. He was also sentenced to 180 days in prison and 10 years of probation.

  • Antonio Brown. In 2020, the league suspended Brown, a receiver who was a free agent at the time, for sending threatening texts to a woman who accused him of sexual misconduct, and for sending a moving company employee. With for his role in the controversy. He pleaded no contest for theft and battery charges and received two years’ probation. Brown denied the sexual misconduct claim.

  • Chris Henry. The league suspended Cincinnati receiver Henry in 2007 after being arrested four times between December 2005 and June 2006.

  • Terry (Tank) Johnson. Johnson, a Chicagoan with defensive dealings, was suspended in 2007 when police raided his home and found six unregistered firearms, a violation of his probation on the first gun charge.

  • Michael Kendrick. Kendrick was suspended in 2018 after pleading guilty to two insider trading charges.

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