Sources: Benson, Talib on suspension list
Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Aqib Talib(notes), Cincinnati Bengals running back Cedric Benson(notes) and Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt(notes) are among eight players who the NFL and the NFL Players Association agreed could be suspended under the league’s personal conduct policy for incidents during the NFL lockout, Yahoo! Sports has learned.
Aside from the aforementioned trio, two sources told Y! Sports that Albert Haynesworth(notes), Clark Haggans(notes), Brandon Underwood(notes), Johnny Jolly(notes) and Adam “Pacman” Jones are the other players involved in the agreement, as specified in a letter from NFL attorney Jeff Pash to NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith. At least four of those players were unaware the NFLPA agreed to the provision on their behalf.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello declined to discuss the matter and NFLPA spokesman George Atallah wrote in an e-mail, “I don’t believe any of those players received any discipline, correct?” Atallah did not answer when pressed about whether the NFLPA agreed to the eight.
So far, the league hasn’t announced suspensions for any of the players. However, Benson reportedly has been notified that he will be suspended for three games pending next week’s appeal.
It’s unclear why Haggans was on the memo. Haggans is not known to have been arrested during the lockout and has no history of problematic behavior. A call to his agent, Jeff Sperbeck, was not immediately returned.
Haynesworth was involved in an incident with a waitress in Washington D.C. in December, but that case was settled and it was reported in late August that the league would take no action against him. He was included among the eight because he hadn’t been indicted until the lockout began, according to a source familiar with the circumstances.
As for the other five, all were involved in incidents during the lockout, when the league had no operating agreement with the players and when some of the players weren’t even under contract. That begs the legal question of whether they can be disciplined by the league or whether a players association can agree to such discipline when it’s technically not a union. Numerous veteran players have contended that the league should not have the right to discipline the players.
The league has repeatedly taken the stance that it will enforce the personal conduct policy, but was selective when it came to the agreement with the NFLPA. There were approximately 20 players arrested between March 12, when the lockout began, and late July, when the league and the players settled.
Talib was arrested in March for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after a shooting outside his home in Dallas. Britt was arrested twice, although he settled the first case. Both have been summoned to New York to meet with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and have been told they will not be disciplined at this time. Talib is set to go to trial in March 2012 and multiple sources have said that unless he is found not guilty or pleads to a much lesser offense, he will be suspended for at least four games by Goodell.
[ Related: Roger Goodell overreaches with conduct policy ]
As for the others, Jolly, who was charged with drug possession in the offseason, and Underwood are currently not playing. Underwood pleaded no contest Friday to a domestic disturbance charge involving his estranged wife. It was his second no contest plea in a little more than a year. The other involved a solicitation of prostitution charge at a Wisconsin resort in 2010. Jones, currently on the physically unable to perform list with the Bengals, is set for a November trial after an incident at a Cincinnati bar.
Among players who were arrested or charged in the offseason who were not on the list were Hines Ward(notes), Mario Henderson(notes), Chris Cook(notes), Bryan McCann(notes), Jason Peters(notes), Louis Murphy(notes), William Moore(notes), Antwan Applewhite(notes), Alex Magee(notes), Garrett Wolfe(notes), Akeem Jordan(notes), Javarris James(notes) and Raheem Brock(notes).
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