When is DUI Manslaughter not a serious crime? When you are a drunk NFL player that happens to run down and kill a j-walker.
Florida has a somewhat unique approach to accidents that end up with a death. The law assigns fault to each party based on the legality of their actions leading up to the accident. There is no question that Stallworth was drunk. According to police, he had a blood alcohol content of 0.14. That is well above the legal limit.
According to reports coming from Miami, the fact that the victim Mario Reyes, 59, was not in a cross walk was a major factor in the negotiations for the plea agreement reached this week. Another factor was that representatives of Stallworth had already worked out a confidential financial settlement to avoid a potential lawsuit from the Reyes family.
The resulting plea agreement was a joke. Stallworth will spend 30 days in jail, a sentence that he has already started to serve, and will have to serve 10 years probation. He also will have community service requirements. Had he gone to trial and been found guilty of DUI Manslaughter, the sentencing guidelines are from 4 ½ to 15 years in prison.
Stallworth will also face a suspension for violating the NFL substance abuse rules. I can’t help but wonder why the NFL doesn’t have rules against manslaughter. This is not the first time that an active player has committed DUI Manslaughter.
In the summer of 1999, Ram DE/LB Leonard Little was driving under the influence of alcohol on his birthday when he ran a red light and killed Susan Gutweiler, 47, of Oakville, Mo. Little served 90 days in jail and was suspended for the first 8 games of the 99 season. The Rams won the Super Bowl that year.
NFL Commissioner Goodell has a decision to make on the suspension of Stallworth. He should suspend Stallworth for the entire season and playoffs. That would help make a point to other professional athletes that laws against driving and drinking apply to them as well as the “regular” people.
The Cleveland Browns also have a decision to make. Coach Mangini has talked a lot about creating a new atmosphere of responsibility in the locker room. In fact, that is about the only thing that Mangenious has talked a lot about. The Stallworth case is an opportunity for the coach to prove it. Cut him now. Make it clear that some things are more important that winning. Killing another human being is one of them. The death of Mr. Reyes is nothing short of murder because Stallworth had to realize that he was too drunk to drive.
Stallworth deserves to lose at least one season if not his career. After all, Mr. Reyes lost his life.
That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .