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Daryl Washington’s Latest Drug Suspension and Justice Denied

Daryl Washington’s latest drug suspension allowed him to get off too easy. As the old saying goes, justice delayed is justice denied and once again the NFL ignored the elephant in the room, missing a golden opportunity to send a message that violence against women will not be tolerated within its ranks. Smoke weed and you are persona non grata but assault a female and you are good to go. It’s past time for the league to end its disappearing act on this issue.

Tired of me writing about this issue? Well join the club I’m tired too. Tired of a league that refuses to address this issue despite repeated instances where its raised its ugly head. What will it take for the league to act? When will it even acknowledge that that it has an issue?

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not. ~ Dr. Seuss

The NFL clearly won’t act on its own initiative and therefore applying pressure is needed to get any results.

Washington of course was arrested May 3, 2013 after the mother of his daughter told police he had strangled her and pushed her down causing her to break her collarbone. It wasn’t Washington’s first run in with the law as he was involved in a robbery case as a 17 year old where the victim was assaulted. He was placed on probation until 2009.

It’s also not his first brush with the league’s drug policy either. Washington was suspended for 4 games at the beginning of the 2013 season for violation of the league’s substance abuse policy. Here is a link to the NFL’s drug policy and it’s various stages and a discussion of the difference between performance enhancing and substance abuse.

The personal conduct policy is broader and far less structured but at its central states this:

Standard of Conduct:

While criminal activity is clearly outside the scope of permissible conduct, and persons who
engage in criminal activity will be subject to discipline, the standard of conduct for persons
employed in the NFL is considerably higher. It is not enough simply to avoid being found guilty
of a crime. Instead, as an employee of the NFL or a member club, you are held to a higher
standard and expected to conduct yourself in a way that is responsible, promotes the values
upon which the League is based, and is lawful.

What kind of  bad acts fall under the personal conduct policy you might ask. Taken directly from the policy are some examples:

• Criminal offenses including, but not limited to, those involving: the use or threat of violence;
domestic violence and other forms of partner abuse; theft and other property crimes; sex
offenses; obstruction or resisting arrest; disorderly conduct; fraud; racketeering; and money

• Criminal offenses relating to steroids and prohibited substances, or substances of abuse;

• Violent or threatening behavior among employees, whether in or outside the workplace;

• Possession of a gun or other weapon in any workplace setting, including but not limited to
stadiums, team facilities, training camp, locker rooms, team planes, buses, parking lots, etc., or
unlawful possession of a weapon outside of the workplace;

• Conduct that imposes inherent danger to the safety and well being of another person; and
• Conduct that undermines or puts at risk the integrity and reputation of the NFL, NFL clubs, or
NFL players

(emphasis mine). The policy makes it clear that adjudication or even a guilty verdict isn’t a prerequisite for action and indeed the league has famously acted on cases like Ben Roethlisberger and the now infamous Bountygate suspensions.

Washington was arrested over a year ago and the details of the incident have long been known. When he pleaded guilty to aggravated assault on March 24, 2014 no new information came to light. The NFL already knew the details of the matter the plea only resolved the case officially. It simply refused to act.

In truth the league already knew Washington had failed another drug test and that another suspension under the drug policy was forthcoming. Washington’s first suspension indicated he was a Stage 2 violator. That means this was his third violation because a first one puts you in the program but it takes 2 more to get you to that level.

When it was announced Washington would be suspended, he had already been through the appeal process and been denied. It is unclear how long that took but surely the league knew the suspension would be forthcoming. It is rare to win an appeal under the drug policies though it does happen as the Richard Sherman case exemplifies.

It’s not hard to imagine the NFL sitting back and waiting for the appeal process to take its course so as to avoid dealing with the assault charges under the personal conduct policy. The league still hasn’t addressed Ray Rice either and has been noticeably silent in regard to the issue of violence against women particularly when committed by its own.

In doing so, the league does a great injustice not only to Washington’s victim but to all other victims as well. As I have written before, females are a growing segment of the league’s fan base and they deserve more than sparkly pink jerseys. They deserve a league willing to stand up for what is right even if it means taking a difficult stance.

It has done so on the issue of gay rights which I would argue is far more polarizing than speaking out against violence against women. Why is it so hard for the league to stand up and speak out for women? The league’s silence is deafening.

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

Martin Luther King Jr.

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