NFL Can Add to Von Miller’s BanSports Wednesday, September 11th, 2013
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — If Roger Goodell has grown weary of Von Miller‘s repeated legal trouble, the NFL commissioner has the authority to add to the Denver Broncos linebacker’s current six-game suspension.
Miller is one game into his suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy, and on Wednesday team officials were privately wrestling with the revelation that Miller was cited last week for driving without a license and speeding.
Multiple sources said Wednesday they believed Miller had been cited after he had returned from meeting with NFL Players Association officials about his suspension. Miller was meeting with union attorneys to discuss the Broncos’ intention to reclaim about $1.25 million worth of signing bonus money because of the suspension. The team plans to simply withhold the money from Miller’s game checks when he is slated to be paid again in Week 7 — and the NFLPA is set to battle that decision.
CBS4 Denver first reported Miller’s latest traffic citations. Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson told the station that Miller was with his father, Von Sr., and allowed to go home.
Because Miller was arrested in August on a failure-to-appear warrant, his latest stumble could land him in more trouble with the league if Goodell is inclined to invoke the league’s conduct policy.
Goodell has repeatedly said he would take a sterner approach with what he called “repeat offenders.” That Miller was cited during a suspension has certainly been noticed by league and Broncos executives.
Miller’s August arrest occurred when he was trying to purchase a firearm at a gun range/store near the Broncos’ complex in south suburban Denver, while he was preparing for an appeal hearing for his current suspension. A mandatory background check revealed he had an outstanding warrant, and Miller was arrested at the store. He had failed to appear for a court date that stemmed from multiple citations last October for careless driving, driving without a license and not having proof of insurance. His original court date had been Dec. 31.
In his latest stop, police discovered Miller’s license had already been suspended when a computer check for outstanding warrants was again done. And while traffic violations alone wouldn’t usually draw attention under the league’s conduct policy, the policy does cover pattern behavior and allows the commissioner to impose discipline at his discretion. The policy states discipline is a possibility for “conduct that undermines or puts at risk the integrity and reputation of the NFL, NFL clubs, or NFL players.”
Goodell also doesn’t have to wait for a conviction or public admission of guilt from a player or league official to invoke the policy. To that end, the policy reads: “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.”
The Broncos had no official comment Wednesday.
When it comes to the Broncos, there is already precedent for a substance-abuse suspension paired with a personal conduct suspension. Last season, linebacker D.J. Williams was suspended six games for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy, and Goodell added three games for violating the personal conduct policy with multiple DUI-related arrests several years apart.
Williams had been originally charged with driving under the influence in November 2010, but a jury returned a conviction on a lesser charge. He was also convicted of driving without headlights. In 2005, Williams had pleaded guilty to impaired driving.
Miller has little wiggle room when it comes to off-the-field conduct. He is currently in Stage 3 of the league’s substance-abuse program, and according to the policy, he will always be in Stage 3. That means random testing up to 10 times a month for the remainder of his NFL career and the next suspension is, at minimum, for a calendar year.
Miller was named to the Pro Bowl after each of his first two seasons, and last year he set a franchise record with 18.5 sacks.
Story by By Jeff Legwold | ESPN.com
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