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Cleveland Browns

Stallworth suspended indefinitely

By Marla Ridenour Published: June 18, 2009

Browns receiver Donte' Stallworth was suspended indefinitely without pay by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell Thursday, two days after Stallworth pleaded guilty to DUI manslaughter and began serving a 30-day jail sentence.

According to a statement released by the league, Stallworth's suspension is effective immediately. When he is released from the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center in Miami, perhaps after 24 days, he will be prohibited from visiting the Browns' facility or participating in team activities.

On March 14, Stallworth struck and killed pedestrian Mario Reyes, 59, who was crossing the MacArthur Causeway in Miami Beach. Stallworth's blood alcohol level was .126, over Florida's legal limit of .08, when he hit Reyes with his 2005 Bentley. Stallworth had been drinking at Club Liv at the exclusive Fontainebleu Hotel in Miami Beach.

Goodell sounded terse in excerpts of his letter to Stallworth that was released by the NFL.

''The conduct reflected in your guilty plea resulted in the tragic loss of life and was inexcusable,'' Goodell wrote. ''While the criminal justice system has determined the legal consequences of this incident, it is my responsibility as NFL Commissioner to determine appropriate league discipline for your actions, which have caused irreparable harm to the victim and his family, your club, your fellow players and the NFL.

''The conduct that led to your conviction plainly violates both the Personal Conduct and Substances of Abuse policies. Either provides me with full authority to take appropriate disciplinary action against you, including a fine or suspension without pay, and to impose appropriate conditions on your continued participation in the NFL. In this case, there is ample evidence to warrant significant discipline under both policies.

''There is no reasonable dispute that your continued eligibility for participation at this time would undermine the integrity of and public confidence in our league. Accordingly, I have decided to suspend you indefinitely, effective immediately. In due course, we will contact your representatives to schedule a meeting with you, after which I will make a final determination on discipline. Pending my final determination, you will not be permitted to visit the club’s facility or participate in any team activities.

''Everyone associated with the league derives tremendous benefits from participating in our game and from the extraordinary support we receive from the public. With these benefits comes, among other things, the responsibility to conduct ourselves in a lawful and responsible way, with no entitlement to or expectation of favorable treatment.''

The substance abuse policy gives Goodell great leverage in cases with aggravating circumstances, including the loss of life of a third party. The league has also instituted a ''safe rides'' program for players and employees who have consumed alcohol. The league's statement also said Goodell contacted all 32 teams earlier this year that there would be increased emphasis when addressing DUIs.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported two years ago that Stallworth had violated the substance abuse policy and was participating in the league's program. Discipline from the commissioner increases when applied to repeat offenders.

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