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Largest Suspension in NFL History:

On Sunday, the Tennessee Titans' Albert Haynesworth stomped on the head of the Dallas Cowboys' Andre Gurode, while Gurode was lying on the ground at the end of a play without his helmet. Gurode required 30 stitches and may press charges.

The NFL responded swiftly, suspending Haynesworth for five games. This is the longest suspension [for on-field conduct] in league history. Indeed, until now the league had not supsended a player for more than two games. Because players are not paid during suspensions, Haynesworth stands to lose approximately $500,000 for his conduct. This suspension was also the first significant disciplinary decision made since Roger Goodell assumed the post of NFL commissioner.

Haynesworth will not appeal the suspension, according to Titans coach Jeff Fisher. Nonetheless, the NFL Players Association indicated it may challenge the suspension. Fisher's respsonse seems more appropraite: This was a severe and unprecedented disciplinary action, but such is appropriate for such a severe case of unacceptable on-field conduct.

[Note: Post edited as indicated above to correct a minor error.]

bchurchhowe (mail):
If the five game suspension is inappropriate in any way, it's inappropriately lenient. The only other league sanctioned suspensions have come from questionable helmet-to-helmet hits, the largest such suspension being 2 games. Leading with the helmet is a dirty move, to be sure. But the intention, even in the cases that merited suspension, is ambiguous-- football is a contact sport, and linebackers make their money hitting people hard on just about every play for 16+ weeks. Mistakes will happen.

What Haynesworth did was completely indefensible. Obviously intenting to cause serious personal harm after the play was over. If helmet-to-helmet contact in the course of making a tackle merits a 2 game suspension, I don't know how this sort of action can be said to merit less than 5.
10.3.2006 10:32am
A. Non (mail):
You're forgetting Paul Hornung and Alex Karras, who were suspended for the entire 1963 season for betting on games and associating with gamblers. So it's plain which offense is more serious.
10.3.2006 10:35am
bchurchhowe (mail):
Good point A Non. If I had to reconcile the two, though, I'd increase the penalties against Haynesworth. Athletes gambling (especially when there's the possibility of a fix) can undermine the integrity of the entire sport.
10.3.2006 10:47am
Mongoose388:
Why isn't this a criminal case? Surely some policeman saw an assault committed on the field? I ask as a non lawyer, but it seems to me this behavior off the field would have led to an arrest. I've seen arrests for less.
10.3.2006 10:51am
Anderson (mail) (www):
What Mongoose said. Why is this not aggravated assault? What the *hell* message are we sending by pretending that it's not?

(The "deadly weapon" requirement for aggravated assault has been construed pretty broadly; I would think metal cleats to the head would meet the test, in some states at least. But whether aggravated or simple, the guy needs to face c-h-a-r-g-e-s, and he needs to be thrown out of the NFL, period. Otherwise, the message is "be as violent as you can afford to be.")
10.3.2006 10:55am
anonVCfan:
Mongoose, the Nashville police have offered to prosecute if Guroda wants to press charges.

A. Non, I don't think that a 1963 suspension is all that relevant.

My own thoughts: 5 games is about right. I'm glad that Haynesworth has been contrite and tried to do the right thing afterward, but that shouldn't affect his suspension. The NFL needs to send a message.

What confuses me is why the NFLPA is thinking of appealing the suspension. Unless there's something in the collective bargaining agreement that says the commissioner couldn't do this, I'd think that their mission to represent the interest of "the players" should extend to protecting the Gurodas of the NFL just as much as the Haynesworths.
10.3.2006 10:58am
anonVCfan:
Sorry, here's the link re: the Nashville police. According to the story,


Nashville police and the district attorney contacted the Cowboys' general counsel, offering their assistance to Gurode in prosecuting Haynesworth. The Cowboys declined to comment on the suspension.

Before the suspension was announced, Gurode wasn't in the Dallas locker room. Cowboys coach Bill Parcells said the center lifted weights and could practice Oct. 4. Before the suspension came down, linebacker Greg Ellis, the players' union representative, said he had talked with Gurode and thinks it is worth pressing charges if things don't get properly resolved with the league.
10.3.2006 10:59am
OK Lawyer:
This is the longest suspension for on field activities, so the 1963 gambling thing is not the same.

Isn't this just a bit hypocritical? Don't we breed these players to be as savage as possible until the whistle blows? I read an article in ESPN yesterday, and Tony Siragusa, former NFL D-lineman (played Hayensworth's position) said the main problem was one of timing. Had Hayensworth done this during the run of play, would his suspension have been as great? I don't think so. During the game, just about anything is fair game, from an eye gouge, to a groin punch, to who knows what else in the bottom of those piles.

I just want to be clear, I am not defending the head stomp. I don't think the NFL could have reacted too harshly.
10.3.2006 11:12am
DK:
The NFL also routinely suspends players for 4 games, a year, or life over substance abuse issues. (Ricky Williams, anyone?).

My first thought when I heard of this incidendent was "roid rage", and IMHO the NFL should be putting Haynesworth under some strict steroid testing as well.
10.3.2006 11:28am
bchurchhowe (mail):
What's the problem with comparing suspensions for on field actions vs. off field actions? Shouldn't there still be at least some basic consistency between the two?

A suspension is a suspension. Is there some fallacy in pointing out that the league apparently believes smoking marijuana during the offseason merits an automatic 4 game suspension, whereas an aggravated on field assault merits only one game more?
10.3.2006 11:31am
Huh:
bchurchhowe,

one difference is that the league's drug testing policy is a product of the NFLPA's collective bargaining with the league. the commissioner believes that he should compare on-field behavior with on-field behavior. that doesn't seem like an irrational way to proceed. i'm no math guy, but it seems like he increased the prior record-suspension by 150%. i can agree with that.
10.3.2006 11:43am
Anderson (mail) (www):
Don't we breed these players to be as savage as possible until the whistle blows?

Um, no. As savage as the rules allow.

And I wouldn't use "breed" in this context, if I were you.
10.3.2006 11:46am
pp (mail):
They need to look to the NHL which has had a few of these type incidents including Marty McSorley teeing off on Donald Brashears head and then the incident in Vancouver where charges were filed. I don't remeber the specifics but I want to say that it pretty much ended McSorleys career and the other suspension (Bertuzzi?) was for about a year.
10.3.2006 11:47am
blah (mail):

On Sunday, the Tennessee Titans' Albert Haynesworth stomped on the head of the Dallas Cowboys' Andre Gurode, while Gurode was lying on the ground at the end of a play without his helmet.


It should be pointed out that Gurode was face up when this occurred. Video clip is here.
10.3.2006 11:50am
HLSbertarian (mail):
bchurchhowe: Another difference is that the face-stomping suspension is largely retributive, while the drug suspensions are largely deterrent. And the drug suspensions are designed (rightly or wrongly) for a system where not every offender is caught, while presumably every face stomper will be captured on film.
10.3.2006 11:53am
elChato (mail):
I think they got it right with the suspension. Also, I appreciate Haynesworth being contrite.
10.3.2006 11:56am
jlrosica (mail) (www):
Reminds me of Hackbart v. Cincinnati Bengals, Inc., 601 F.2d 516 (10th Circ. 1979)!
10.3.2006 12:03pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Also, I appreciate Haynesworth being contrite.

"I'm really, really, very terribly sorry that I stomped on your face with my cleats"???????????
10.3.2006 12:04pm
Hans Bader:
The penalty was inappropriately light for such an act of extreme violence.

At a minimum, he should have been suspended for at least a year, preferably longer.

Why are we as a society so soft on violent criminals, even as we persecute terminally ill people who use pot to ease their suffering (see Gonzales v. Raich) and (in some liberal states like New Jersey) define consensual sex as rape (See State In the Interest of M.T.S. (N.J. 1992) ("consent is not a defense")).
10.3.2006 12:10pm
Pocket (mail):
What Haynesworth did was the work of a brute thug. A five game suspension? The guy stomped on someone's unprotected skull with metal cleats. Haynewsworth should be thrown out of the league; anyone who makes excuses for his behavior has a serious moral deficit.
10.3.2006 12:15pm
Mongoose388:
"
Nashville police and the district attorney contacted the Cowboys' general counsel, offering their assistance to Gurode in prosecuting Haynesworth"

The police need the victim to press charges when they have thousands of witnesses and a videotape?
10.3.2006 12:15pm
Sarah (mail) (www):
All of this really does force one to ask "what on earth would a player have to do on the field in order to get kicked out of football forever?"

I'm thinking the answer lies somewhere around "committing manslaughter after the end of the play," but I doubt that any mere attempt at manslaughter would be enough, given that stomping on a man's unprotected face could have led to brain damage or death.

If I were the owner of that team, I'd try to trade him away. Of course, I don't think anyone would want him, which would be a problem.
10.3.2006 12:20pm
HLSbertarian (mail):

The police need the victim to press charges when they have thousands of witnesses and a videotape?


They don't, but most DAs follow the lead of the victim in assault cases. I doubt this was the only assault in Nashville on Sunday, but it's the only one which would consume most of the resources of the Nashville DA and still not lead to jail time.
10.3.2006 12:25pm
bchurchhowe (mail):
HLS,

I appreciate the distinction between deterrance and retribution, but not sure that it matches up completely to the on-field/off-field distinction at play here. If it did, lighting up a doobie on field would merit less than a 4 game suspension.

Also, to be consistent with the deterrance distinction, off field assaults would mandate more than a 5 game suspension. I can't find a relevant test case for this, but I would note that the NFL has been notoriously lenient in some cases for off field criminal actions. Ray Lewis only got a 2 game suspension for setting up a cocaine deal, fer crying out loud.

I guess the moral here is that the NFL is just plain inconsistent in doling out punishment. My point was simply that comparing suspensions for off field actions to suspensions for on field actions isn't necessarily an apples to oranges thing.
10.3.2006 12:31pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Hm. I think the solution to our recent threads is to sign up Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in the NFL.
10.3.2006 12:35pm
Rob J (mail):
Bullshit. That's what it is. If I went out on the street with one-inch metal cleats and stomped a guy's head I would be in jail.
10.3.2006 12:41pm
HLSbertarian (mail):

Bullshit. That's what it is. If I went out on the street with one-inch metal cleats and stomped a guy's head I would be in jail.


If the victim wasn't seriously hurt, didn't want to cooperate, and the DA had anyting else at all to do, not a chance.
10.3.2006 12:54pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
Most of the news shows are not showing the entire highlight. Before he kicked him, he ripped his helmet off. I think 5 games was too lenient. Look, there was an opportunity and he was frustrated, 5 games would be acceptable. But, his actions went well-beyond that. I think a suspension for the rest of the season would have servied him right.
10.3.2006 1:09pm
Houston Lawyer:
I still remember the punch landed on Rudy Tomjonovitch during a basketball game 30 years ago. It crushed the side of his face. I believe that punch ended the career of guy who threw it. I understand that he's still bitter that he wasn't forgiven for his thuggery.

It's an obscene double standard that Ricky Williams must endure much greater punishment for a victimless crime than this guy does for a vicious criminal assault.
10.3.2006 1:30pm
Hattio (mail):
HLSbertarian

That may be the way it works where you practice, but I just recently tried a case where the "victim" was uncooperative. He even got on the stand and told the jury he didn't want to see the defendants go to jail. Some DA's aren't deterred by little things like common sense.
10.3.2006 1:46pm
joe (mail):
The only just way to settle this is to sharpen Gurode's cleats, lie Hanesworth down face up, and give Gurode one shot at disfiguring Hanesworth 30-stitches worth; then, let the media compare the videos of the two incidents to enable the necessary judgement as to who was the better exhibitionist...much like a slam-dunk contest with mace and daggers!
10.3.2006 1:51pm
HLSbertarian (mail):
Hattio: Thankfully, the empirical data of which I'm aware says cases like that are by far the exception.

My point is simply that, as far as criminal charges go, Haynes isn't getting off more easily than most less-famous defendants in his position. That said, one may plausibly argue that a visible case like this one is more deserving of prosecution for its deterrence value.
10.3.2006 2:02pm
James Ellis (mail):
Bear in mind that, as opposed to other pro sports, a five game suspension is a large proportion of the entire season (about 30%)...it seems that the league handled this very well, acting swiftly and decisively in a pretty even-handed fashion. Certainly the message has been sent that this type of behavior will not be tolerated. The public scorn, combined with the tremendous financial penalty, should be an effective deterrent.
10.3.2006 2:28pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
It's an obscene double standard that Ricky Williams must endure much greater punishment for a victimless crime than this guy does for a vicious criminal assault.

Houston, I so rarely get to agree with you, I'm happy to seize the moment. Particularly as a Dolphin fan ... alas, my poor fish.
10.3.2006 2:35pm
Ragerz (mail):
I don't buy the argument made by law and economics types that a lower probability of apprehension should lead to a longer sentence. (i.e. smoking marijuana versus stomping on someone's head on national television.) First, the average individual probably is relatively ignorant of the relative punishments for different offenses. How can one argue that individuals respond rationally when they are ignorant of the costs of their action? Obviously, you can't. Furthermore, anyone must admit that the setting of sentences is more of an art than a science. We can make some sort of mechanical formula based on probabilities, but it is very unlikely that those we are targetting for punishment will respond rationally to marginal differences that they are unaware of.

Here is a better approach. Make punishment proportionate purely to the perceived seriousness of the offense. In this case, a 5 game suspension is more appropriate for marijuana consumption, and a suspension for the entire season is more appropriate for stomping someone on the head. That would be more sensible and just.

Sometimes, economics should be excluded from our analysis of law. There are other ways to think about things, and those other ways are superior in certain contexts.
10.3.2006 2:51pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
I don't buy the argument made by law and economics types that a lower probability of apprehension should lead to a longer sentence.

FWIW, this was actually Jeremy Bentham's position, tho I don't know that he invented it (Beccaria, anyone?). Of course, he preferred surer apprehension and lighter sentences; the surety of light punishment is a greater deterrent than the small possibility of severe punishment.
10.3.2006 2:56pm
Pete Freans (mail):
The fact that Gurode was in a vunerable position, both down on the field and without a helmet, makes this behavior especially heinous. If there ever was an intent to injure, clearly this was the case. I wondered if Gurode had lost his helmet during play and was on his feet instead, would tackling him without regard to his exposed head be considered unsportsmanlike? I would think that if a hit must be made and play has not been blown dead, everyone on the field is at risk to be hit, regardless of an equipment malfunction. Just a thought.
10.3.2006 3:18pm
KeithK (mail):

First, the average individual probably is relatively ignorant of the relative punishments for different offenses. How can one argue that individuals respond rationally when they are ignorant of the costs of their action?

I'd bet that most if not all players in the NFL are aware of the penalties for drug offenses. The teams have a strong interest in informing them - you don't want to lose a guy to suspension - and there are plenty of team meeting through training camp to bring it up.

The average player probably also knows roughly that you can get suspended for on field behavior, though the exact penalties are a different story since they're not well defined.

Gambling is like drug offense in this regard. Every player knows that gambling on games will get you suspended for a long time if you're lucky. I've often read that eevry clubhouse in MLB has a sign posted about gambling rules and I'd imagine that kind of coverage extends to other sports as well.

BTW - gambling is a more serious crime than this assault and deserves greater punishment in the context of the sport. Haynesworth injured another player, possible seriously. But someone who bets on football games he's involved in risks jeopardizing the credibility of the entire sport. The potential impact is much greater and thus the penalty should be more severe.
10.3.2006 3:31pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
BTW - gambling is a more serious crime than this assault and deserves greater punishment in the context of the sport.

Football as a theater for aggravated assaults is MUCH more dangerous to the sport.
10.3.2006 3:35pm
JosephSlater (mail):
First, I think it's right to view this in terms of "the percentage of the season." So, a 5-game suspension in the NFL = 50 game suspension in major league baseball = about 25 games in the NBA.

As to the NBA, the only comparisons I can think of (and they are imperfect) are the suspensions following the "brawl" at the Detroit-Indiana game in which a couple of players went into the stands. Ron Artest was suspended for basically the season. Indiana's Stephen Jackson was suspended for 30 games and Jermaine O'Neal for 25. Detroit's Ben Wallace -- whose shove of Artest after a foul led was the first incident in the chain of events -- drew a six-game ban, while Pacers guard Anthony Johnson got five games.
10.3.2006 4:59pm
JosephSlater (mail):
P.S. Nobody has yet mentioned the possibility of a civil suit by the injured player. There are a number of tort cases setting out the rules for when athletes can sue each other for injuries sustained during a game. It's usually some sort of lowered duty of care/clearly outside the rules and the way the game is normally played standard. It seems to me that test could easily be met here.
10.3.2006 5:11pm
Steven Vickers:
The best comparison I can think of in American sports is Juan Marichal clubbing John Roseboro on the head with a baseball bat. The two situations strike me as reasonably similar: Both actions occured in a break during gameplay, both had the potential (perhaps not huge, I don't know) for brain injury but, in the end, both injuries "merely" required stiches. Marichal ultimately received a suspension roughly proportional to a one-game suspension in football. I might have chosen a longer suspension for Haynesworth (8 games, or the rest of season), but lifetime ban would be far beyond any precedent in American sports of which I'm aware, and almost certainly unnecessary as a deterrent (do you see a lot of baseball players being struck with bats?)
10.3.2006 5:20pm
Duffy Pratt (mail):
Yes, five games is not enough. In football, the goal is to administer career ending injuries while the ball is in play, not to give out some minor lacerations during a time out. He should have been doing his job, and maiming the quarterback during the allotted 5 seconds.
10.3.2006 5:24pm
Kristian (mail):
For all those saying there should be criminal charges, is not a $500k fine and most likely a severely curtailed career (perhaps never playing another game) a severe enough penalty? Lord knows, many people who are convited of assault never pay that high a penalty.

Also, some mentioned metal cleats. Football cleats are not metal like running shoes or baseball cleats. If there is any metal, is a metal core surroned by rubber or plastic. Still shurt like hell, and can do a lot of damage.

I think his punishment was just, why do we need to pile on with criminal charges?

If it was the damages, we have players dying or getting paralyzed every year at some level of football or another. If it were intent, have you seen the way people hit each other, especially guys like Shawn Merriman, Ray Lewis or Brian Dawkins?

And lets be honest, if the Dallas player had not lost his helmet, we wouldn't even be talking about this, no? A flag, perhaps (but not sure) ejection, and a fine and all would be done. So the 5 games is really not the kick to the head, it is the kick to the head that was missing a helmet.
10.3.2006 5:43pm
Skeptic (mail):
In watching the video, it appears that Haynesworth first kicked the helmet off Gurode before he then stepped on his head! It is in the periphery of the shot while they are focusing on the touchdown. Looks like Haynesworth kicks the helmet off with a sideways swipe, then he picks his foot up and comes down on Gurode's head. With Haynesworth size and position Gurode is lucky he wasn't permanently disabled!
The suspension was okay in length, I would have rather seen it for the rest of the season though. I am actually bothered by the players union. They have somehow chosen sides in this action of thuggery and it is on the side of the thug!?! I find that reprehensible.
Much like the hockey hit from a few years ago, there is reason for criminal charges in this instance.
I would rather see the owner and coach get rid of the guy. It would take some guts, but an owner or coach should be able to get rid of a player that commits criminal actions on the field of play.
10.3.2006 5:44pm
Kristian (mail):

The best comparison I can think of in American sports is Juan Marichal clubbing John Roseboro on the head with a baseball bat.

How about Kermit Washinginton nearly killing Rudy Tomjonivich? And I mean that seriously, IIRC, Kermit dislocated a bone in Rudy's neck, and had he not had emergency surgery, he likely would have suffered grave if not mortal injuries.
10.3.2006 5:48pm
Steven Vickers:

How about Kermit Washinginton nearly killing Rudy Tomjonivich? And I mean that seriously, IIRC, Kermit dislocated a bone in Rudy's neck, and had he not had emergency surgery, he likely would have suffered grave if not mortal injuries.


I thought of that one, but it seems different in that there was an actual fight going on--I like Rudy T, but he was sprinting into a brawl, if my memory serves. The Haynesworth incident was unprovoked by any physical actions I've seen. I also note that Washington's suspension was slightly under one-third of the season, pretty much in line with Haynesworth.

Interestingly, both Tomjanovich and Roseboro forgave their assailants, including Roseboro even traveling to the Dominican with Marichal--I don't really think it's tremendously important, just noteworthy.
10.3.2006 6:04pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
I'd vote for permanent suspension. A year would be too nice. Five games? After that?

And yes, prosecutors may give some thought to whether the victim wants the charges -- but we're not talking a fist fight with some aches here, but a cleated shoe in the face. I'd like to think they'd at least consider agg assault, and certainly go with simple, whether the victim writes it off or not. With the videotape, it's not like they need his testimony, anyway.
10.3.2006 7:39pm
Owen Hutchins (mail):

That may be the way it works where you practice, but I just recently tried a case where the "victim" was uncooperative. He even got on the stand and told the jury he didn't want to see the defendants go to jail. Some DA's aren't deterred by little things like common sense.


So if the victim doesn't cooperate, say because they have been threatened, then "common sense say don't prosecute? Domestic violence must be easy round your way.
10.3.2006 10:10pm
MarkM (mail):
It seems to me that in the sports world, and especially in football, there is a possibility of loss of status for anyone who would press charges in a case like this. It would be interpreted as vindictive -- some would say a five-game suspension is punishment enough -- and others might say it is "unmanly" to rely on the criminal justice system to satisfy a grudge against someone. Better to duke it out in the parking lot, so folk wisdom would say. So failure to press charges doesn't mean Haynesworth should be able to get away with criminal conduct.

I think there would be a larger social good to come from a criminal prosecution. First, an unpaid vacation is not much of a punishment for lacerating someone's face. Sure, the guy loses $500,000 but that just implies he gets paid $100,000 per game -- I doubt he is hurting financially. If Haynesworth had to spend a few months in jail away from his nice house and fancy cars that would have a real deterrent effect. Also, there is always a danger of contact sports descending to the level of gladiatorial blood-sport. The law needs to step in when something clearly outside the bounds of the sport happens. Testosterone-fueled 300-pound men paid to slam into each other on the field are not going to regulate themselves.
10.3.2006 11:01pm
Dave Sheldon (mail):
I'd like to point out something in relation to the NFL's consistency in punishment for on-field conduct.

The previous longest suspension — 2 games — was given to Charles Martin, a defensive player for the Green Bay Packers. In that play, Jim McMahon, oft-injured quarterback for the Chicago Bears, had just thrown an incomplete pass downfield. A full two seconds after the play had been blown dead, Martin approached McMahon from behind, picked him up, and slammed him to the ground on his throwing shoulder.

From the story about Martin's subsequent untimely death:


Martin was wearing a towel with the numbers of Bears' players on it during the game. McMahon's No. 9 was at the top of the list. Martin was ejected for a flagrant late hit and suspended for two games.


McMahon was out for the rest of the season after that body slam. He was never really the same, and I believe the hit to be largely responsible for the period of mediocrity suffered by the Bears at the quarterback from that night until roughly a month ago.

But I digress. My point is, that was a premeditated hit, long after the play was over, with intent to injure in a career-threatening way, and with no showing of remorse. It was punished with a two-game suspension. Haynesworth lashed out in the heat of the moment at someone who was already within striking distance, immediately after the play had broken up, in the interior of the line, and was very contrite and apologetic afterwards. It was punished with a five-game suspension.

Where is the consistency here? Does the doubled suspension for something that arguably was not as bad show a trend towards society wanting incredibly harsh punishment even for acts done in the heat of the moment? Or is it just a sign that extracurricular violence simply isn't tolerated as it once was? Maybe, to go back to the economics of this, it's just more important for team owners to protect their sizable investment in player contracts than it was back in the mid-80s?
10.4.2006 2:47am
farmer56 (mail):
for most here it is plain that most have not played the game. I have. Hitting someone as hard and fierce as is humunaly possibly is what you sign up for. Everyone that plays, knows what is 'the end of the play' what this substitute of a human did should ban him from ever entering a stadium, even as a spectator
10.4.2006 10:49am
Mike S (mail):
Why do the police need the victim's cooperation to press charges? It is not as though there is a dearth of other witnesses. I understand that a lot of violence is part of the game, and police should not intervene. And some pushing an shoving after the play is expected, but this was a brutal battery, during a stopage of play, on a player without his protective gear on--why didn't some officer on security detail just march on to the field, handcuff Mr. Haynesworth, and let him tell it to the judge.
10.4.2006 11:59am
Matt22191 (mail):
Dave,

You wrote, "My point is, that was a premeditated hit, long after the play was over, with intent to injure in a career-threatening way, and with no showing of remorse. . . Haynesworth lashed out in the heat of the moment at someone who was already within striking distance, immediately after the play had broken up, in the interior of the line, and was very contrite and apologetic afterwards."

Have you seen the video? A 300 pound behemoth who probably leg presses in excess of 1200 pounds deliberately removed the helmet of a downed player, then proceeded to stomp on his face. I can only conclude that Haynesworth stopped to remove Gurode's helmet in order to increase the severity of the injuries he intended to inflict. "Intent to injure in a career-threatening way?" How about intent to injure in a life-threatening way? And Haynesworth's contrition carries little weight with me. There's no way to know whether he's sorry because he knows he did something evil, or sorry because he knows he's just turned himself into a pariah. Even if it's the former, it's too little, too late; he should've thought of that before he pulled one of the dirtiest stunts I've ever seen in professional sports. Some things you just can't take back.
10.4.2006 12:39pm
Joshua:
pp: They need to look to the NHL which has had a few of these type incidents including Marty McSorley teeing off on Donald Brashears head and then the incident in Vancouver where charges were filed. I don't remeber the specifics but I want to say that it pretty much ended McSorleys career and the other suspension (Bertuzzi?) was for about a year.

Actually both incidents you're talking about took place in Vancouver, and both McSorley and Bertuzzi got indefinite suspensions from the NHL.

Since McSorley's playing career was in its twilight years anyway, I don't think he ever even bothered trying to get reinstated into the NHL; he simply finished up his career in Europe. Also McSorley was convicted of assault with a weapon for his attack on Brashear. He was sentenced to 18 months probation.

As for Bertuzzi, he sat out 20 games (about the last 15% of the regular season and a seven-game playoff series, not counting the NHL lockout which wiped out the following season entirely) and lost $800K in salary and endorsements before being reinstated. The IIHF (the sport's international governing body) honored the suspension as well, keeping Bertuzzi from playing in Europe during that time. He was also charged criminally and pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm, but upon serving one year of probation this was expunged from his criminal record.
10.4.2006 1:14pm