As Arizona Cardinals fans are already well aware, Daryl Washington has been suspended by the NFL for the entire 2014-2015 season. I'm in the seemingly double minority who agreed with the unpopular suspension when some of us thought it was for domestic assault, while at the same time believing that a year long suspension for recreational drug use is excessive.
Washington allegedly had multiple failures (and a 4 game suspension) prior to this. But is taking him out of action for an entire year the most prudent course for something that many do, that is becoming increasingly culturally acceptable? Is the punishment-treatment ratio really balanced under these policies so that Washington will have a chance to get better and salvage his career?
The most common argument is that DWash knew the rules, that he had several chances to correct his behavior, and that he should have known better. This is true, if you want to be in the millionaire celebrity club known as the NFL, you should be prepared to make sacrifices up to and including dumping your vices. The NFL has the right to drug test individuals, and the sanction handed down to Washington is consistent with the rigid standards established by the most recent collective bargaining agreement.
But are these rules just? In the entire history of the NFL, only a handful of players (around 5) have ever been suspended by the league or their team for domestic abuse. Like with the substance abuse guidelines, players on their first non-felony offense (a la Washington) often get a mulligan of sorts in the form of a wrist slap. But nearly hundreds of players have been suspended for recreational drug use, while a very small amount of players have been suspended for crimes such as assault. When you consider how few players make an active NFL roster and the hundreds of punishable arrests dating back to just 2010, the disparity in punishment is staggering.
The average suspension served for drug use: 4 games. The average suspension served for assault: 1-2 games. After multiple convictions.
Do you think recreational drug use should carry greater weight in the NFL than crimes which harm or endanger others? Should punishments be more equal? If not, which form of sanction should be more severe and why? What do you think of the current system in place, both for conduct and substance abuse?