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Stallworth 09 = Little 98

As we all know by now, Donte Stallworth has been suspended for the year (without pay) for his drunk driving accident in Miami, FL which killed a man.  Stallworth is the latest to high-profile athlete to get caught driving under the influence and this time with distastrous results.

Rams fans will remember in 1998 when our own Leonard Little was in the same situation for the Rams.  He was driving drunk when he struck and killed a woman. Little was inactive for 4 games in 1998 dealing with his legal procession in result of the accident.  He was suspended 8 games (without pay) by then-commissioner Paul Tagliabue suspended him for 8 games of the 1999 season.

Much more analysis after the jump.

Did Little get off easier than Stallworth as far as NFL suspension is concerned?  Yes.  Stallworth got a full season and Little got half a season.  However, Little missed 4 games in 1998, but he was paid for those games because he was on the inactive list.  Little was punished less under a different regime in the NFL.  It’s easy to compare them because of the similarity of the circumstances, but 1998 in the NFL is light years from 2009.

It is a hard situation for fans with the off the field problems for players.  We want the player on the field to help the team win, but we want the man punished for their mistakes so they will learn to not get behind the wheel when intoxicated.  The main problem for fans is the difference between the player and the man.  We would love all the players on our favorite teams to be boy scouts off the field, but everyone knows that is not possible.  However, as long as the player performs on the field, the fans will love him.  But some in the community will see the player as the man more than the player. Mike Vick is dealing with this same problem, but this article is not about him.

Little also didn’t help his situation by being pulled over for drunk driving in 2004, but only being convicted in a court of law for speeding.  It is impossible to speculate about whether he was drunk or not at the time of the ticket, but he did not engender too much positive vibes after alledgedly repeating what got a woman killed in 1998.  It is a hard situation for fans.  Do we root for the player to get found not-guilty so that he will be able to play in the upcoming game?  Sometimes, sports take a back seat to real life, but for sports fans sometimes it is hard to seperate.  And there is always a small part of us, not matter how small that is always rooting for the player to escape the charges so we can see him escaping blocks on Sunday afternoons.  As I said before, it is a very hard situation for fans.

We love our heroes on the gridiron, but driving drunk is one of the most dangerous things anyone could do.  Just ask MADD or any of the other organizations against drunk driving.  Some of the athletes may feel above the law or invincible because of their skill on the football field with thousands of fans cheering for them.

But, this much is clear.  No player or fan should put him or herself in a position to drive drunk.  Call a cab, call a friend, call anyone.

MADD – Mothers Against Drunk Driving

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One Response to “Stallworth 09 = Little 98”

  1. Eric Nagel says:

    I’d also have to think about what kind of person would j-walk across a highway at nighttime.

    Not that his actions are excusable (Stallworth) but the guy he hit was kind of crazy for doing that.

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