Goodell has eye on Hernandez case
Published: Friday, June 21, 2013 at 11:34 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, June 21, 2013 at 11:34 p.m.
NEW YORK — Roger Goodell is doing what any commissioner or president of a sports league would when one of his players is being investigated in a criminal case.
He's waiting for the legal process to take its course.
No charges have been filed in what has been termed by Massachusetts authorities as a homicide in the death of a man connected to New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez.
Police have searched Hernandez's house and the area around it after 27-year-old semi-pro player Odin Lloyd was found dead in an industrial park near the Patriot's North Attleborough home.
Hernandez also was sued Wednesday in Florida by a man claiming Hernandez shot him in the face after they argued at a strip club in February.
As he has done in recent cases, be they high profile — Michael Vick and his dogfighting, for example — or less publicized, Goodell is sitting tight. Innocent before proven guilty.
Should Hernandez be arrested — no charges have been brought in either case — Goodell could punish him under the NFL's personal conduct policy. But he generally prefers to await the outcome of all legal proceedings.
When Vick admitted to financing a dogfighting operation, Goodell suspended him indefinitely in August 2007. Vick served 18 months in a federal penitentiary, and was reinstated in 2009 when Goodell said the quarterback had shown remorse for his actions.
Vick has stayed out of trouble since and has played for the Philadelphia Eagles the last four years.
Goodell suspended cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones for the 2007 season under the personal conduct policy after Jones was arrested multiple times. A 2005 first-round draft pick by the Titans who now is with Cincinnati, Jones has been in and out of legal trouble, with at least seven arrests over the years and involvement in about a dozen incidents that included police intervention.
He recently pleaded not guilty to an assault charge after police say he hit a woman at a nightclub. If he is found guilty or accepts a plea bargain, he would be subject to another NFL suspension, perhaps an indefinite one.
“We must protect the integrity of the NFL,” Goodell has said. “The highest standards of conduct must be met by everyone in the NFL because it is a privilege to represent the NFL, not a right. These players, and all members of our league, have to make the right choices and decisions in their conduct on a consistent basis.”
Packers defensive lineman Johnny Jolly was suspended indefinitely by the NFL before the 2010 season for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Two years earlier, in April 2008, he'd been arrested outside a club in his hometown of Houston for possession of codeine, a controlled substance. He pleaded guilty and was given probation, with the understanding that another misstep would mean significant jail time.
He was arrested again in October 2010, and went to jail for violating probation. Goodell suspended him indefinitely and he has missed the last three NFL seasons, but attended Green Bay's minicamp earlier this month after being reinstated in March.
The Patriots drafted Hernandez out of Florida in 2010. Since then, he has combined with Rob Gronkowski to form one of the top tight end duos in the NFL. He missed 10 games last season with an ankle injury and had shoulder surgery in April but is expected to be ready for training camp. Last summer, the Patriots gave him a five-year contract worth $40 million.