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Editorial: Professional athletes play by their own laws

Published 11:05am Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2009

One has to wonder just how many chances professional athletes should get when they run afoul of the law?

There certainly seems to be a lot of action off the football field than on it these days when it comes to the National Football League.

There are problems within organizations and then there are those who take place in public.
Some incidents are more notable than others.

But one thing is for sure; professional athletes do not follow the same laws as the general public has to.

We know that people, and we mean all people, make mistakes, but it is how they handle those mistakes and how they are handled after they make them we do not always agree.
Athletes tend to be less than contrite when they face the press once they are caught and held accountable for their mistakes.

We are quite sure that they wouldn’t say a thing if their agents, their coaches or their lawyers didn’t put them up to it.

But some actually get it. They are sincere when they apologize for their deeds, while others never do get it and continue to run afoul of the law.

But be that as it may, what happens after that is quite often very interesting.

The legal system seems to give them a slap on the wrist and they are back to playing their respective sport with little or no retribution from the league they play for.
Last year we commended the NFL for its tougher policies in handling athletes who have run-ins with the law.

But we might have to rethink that after the NFL reinstated Michael Vick recently, allowing him to continue playing football after being convicted and doing jail time for animal abuse.
Vick deserved more from the NFL than what he got.

We don’t care how long he spent in jail.

His crime was unthinkable and to allow him to come right back and play after missing just last season doesn’t fit the crime, in our opinion.

But worse than Vick, Donte’ Stallworth was suspended for one year by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who will consider reinstatement following the Super Bowl in 2010.

That’s not nearly enough for killing a pedestrian while driving drunk.

Although it is better than the 24 days he spent in jail for the offense.

Celebrities should not be held to a different standard in a court of law, but they are.
That’s probably not going to change.

So if the law isn’t going to make them pay then the professional sports league that they play for should.

It’s time these leagues clamp down on their athletes and keep them in line even if society won’t.

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