Roger Goodell faces three new personal conduct policy challenges

In most years, June is one of the rare months in which the NFL commissioner can relax a bit before another season ramps up. This year, Roger Goodell has a trio of thorny problems.

NFL commissioner implied Titans quarterback Vince Young won't receive a suspension for the misdemeanor assault.
NFL commissioner implied Titans quarterback Vince Young won’t receive a suspension for the misdemeanor assault.

Trouble has found Titans quarterback Vince Young, Eagles quarterback Michael Vick and Lions president Tom Lewand, and in time Goodell must resolve each matter in accordance with the precedent he has set under the personal conduct policy.

Vince Young

On the surface, Young’s situation is simple: He was cited for misdemeanor assault after an incident at a Dallas strip club, and the availability of video suggests that Young will plead guilty or no contest to the charges.

Based on the precedents involving Cardinals linebacker Joey Porter, a first-time offender who was fined in the amount of a single game check after pleading no contest to misdemeanor assault in 2008, and another first-time offender, Jets receiver Braylon Edwards, who reportedly won’t be suspended after pleading no contest to misdemeanor assault arising from an October 2009 incident, Young likely will get a fine but no suspension.

Perhaps there’s a catch, though. When FoxSports.com reported that Goodell was unlikely to suspend Young, the league quickly clarified the remarks, explaining that Goodell said nothing about Young’s likely or unlikely fate. It’s possible the league chimed in because Goodell plans to use trouble-making quarterbacks for sending messages to the other players, just as many think Goodell did with Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Michael Vick

Vick apparently did nothing wrong in connection with the shooting at his 30th birthday party. Whether he had left the party before the shot rang out (the reports in this regard are conflicting), no one claims Vick had a role in the incident.

The problem arises from the fact the bullet hit Quanis Phillips, one of the co-defendants in the dogfighting case that landed Vick in federal prison. Vick’s probation requires him to steer clear of convicted felons, and Phillips’ presence at the party calls into question whether Vick ran afoul of his probation and/or his NFL reinstatement.

If the feds persuade a judge that Vick violated the terms of his probation, Goodell’s decision will be simple. Vick necessarily would be suspended because he’d be back in jail.

What if the feds do nothing? Under the precedent Goodell set in the Roethlisberger case, the league itself may investigate whether Vick ran afoul of the terms of his probation and, in turn, his reinstatement.

At this point, it’s too early to know how this will play out. But Steelers fans who continue to believe that Goodell unfairly made an example out of a starting quarterback who never was arrested will be paying close attention.

Update: Video calls Vick lawyer’s timeline into question

Tom Lewand

Over the past year, the league has dealt with a couple of situations involving non-players who have faced allegations of wrongdoing. Former Raiders defensive assistant Randy Hanson met with coach Tom Cable in August 2009 and left with a broken jaw. In May, Saints head coach Sean Payton was accused of abusing Vicodin, and assistant head coach Joe Vitt was accused of stealing it.

To date, the league has not punished any of them.

Lions president Tom Lewand’s drunk-driving arrest, on the other hand, compels swift and decisive action. Given that his blood-alcohol concentration was more than twice the legal limit and that he holds a lofty position within the organization, Lewand’s alleged misbehavior can’t be ignored.

But Lions owner William Clay Ford apparently plans to do so. If Goodell follows suit, he’ll face intense criticism from the players’ union.

In the end, each situation presents a different challenge for Goodell. And none of these cases would have arisen if Young, Vick and Lewand had learned from the examples provided by others.

Mike Florio writes and edits ProFootballTalk.com and is a regular contributor to Sporting News. Check out PFT for up-to-the minute NFL news.

In most years, June is one of the rare months in which the NFL commissioner can relax a bit before another season ramps up. This year, Roger Goodell has a trio of thorny problems.

NFL commissioner implied Titans quarterback Vince Young won't receive a suspension for the misdemeanor assault.
NFL commissioner implied Titans quarterback Vince Young won’t receive a suspension for the misdemeanor assault.

Trouble has found Titans quarterback Vince Young, Eagles quarterback Michael Vick and Lions president Tom Lewand, and in time Goodell must resolve each matter in accordance with the precedent he has set under the personal conduct policy.

Vince Young

On the surface, Young’s situation is simple: He was cited for misdemeanor assault after an incident at a Dallas strip club, and the availability of video suggests that Young will plead guilty or no contest to the charges.

Based on the precedents involving Cardinals linebacker Joey Porter, a first-time offender who was fined in the amount of a single game check after pleading no contest to misdemeanor assault in 2008, and another first-time offender, Jets receiver Braylon Edwards, who reportedly won’t be suspended after pleading no contest to misdemeanor assault arising from an October 2009 incident, Young likely will get a fine but no suspension.

Perhaps there’s a catch, though. When FoxSports.com reported that Goodell was unlikely to suspend Young, the league quickly clarified the remarks, explaining that Goodell said nothing about Young’s likely or unlikely fate. It’s possible the league chimed in because Goodell plans to use trouble-making quarterbacks for sending messages to the other players, just as many think Goodell did with Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Michael Vick

Vick apparently did nothing wrong in connection with the shooting at his 30th birthday party. Whether he had left the party before the shot rang out (the reports in this regard are conflicting), no one claims Vick had a role in the incident.

The problem arises from the fact the bullet hit Quanis Phillips, one of the co-defendants in the dogfighting case that landed Vick in federal prison. Vick’s probation requires him to steer clear of convicted felons, and Phillips’ presence at the party calls into question whether Vick ran afoul of his probation and/or his NFL reinstatement.

If the feds persuade a judge that Vick violated the terms of his probation, Goodell’s decision will be simple. Vick necessarily would be suspended because he’d be back in jail.

What if the feds do nothing? Under the precedent Goodell set in the Roethlisberger case, the league itself may investigate whether Vick ran afoul of the terms of his probation and, in turn, his reinstatement.

At this point, it’s too early to know how this will play out. But Steelers fans who continue to believe that Goodell unfairly made an example out of a starting quarterback who never was arrested will be paying close attention.

Update: Video calls Vick lawyer’s timeline into question

Tom Lewand

Over the past year, the league has dealt with a couple of situations involving non-players who have faced allegations of wrongdoing. Former Raiders defensive assistant Randy Hanson met with coach Tom Cable in August 2009 and left with a broken jaw. In May, Saints head coach Sean Payton was accused of abusing Vicodin, and assistant head coach Joe Vitt was accused of stealing it.

To date, the league has not punished any of them.

Lions president Tom Lewand’s drunk-driving arrest, on the other hand, compels swift and decisive action. Given that his blood-alcohol concentration was more than twice the legal limit and that he holds a lofty position within the organization, Lewand’s alleged misbehavior can’t be ignored.

But Lions owner William Clay Ford apparently plans to do so. If Goodell follows suit, he’ll face intense criticism from the players’ union.

In the end, each situation presents a different challenge for Goodell. And none of these cases would have arisen if Young, Vick and Lewand had learned from the examples provided by others.

Mike Florio writes and edits ProFootballTalk.com and is a regular contributor to Sporting News. Check out PFT for up-to-the minute NFL news.

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