Eight years into his tenure as commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell has established himself as a king of personal conduct prosecution. He’s a no-nonsense leader who has at times even punished players for alleged indiscretions that didn’t even progress through the legal system (see: Roethlisberger, Ben).
And for anyone who was expecting Goodell to start to ease up as he transitions from the early days of his reign, look no further than what the commish did to star Arizona Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington on Friday:
#Cardinals LB Daryl Washington will be suspended for the entire 2014 season, still gathering all the details.
— Mike Jurecki (@mikejurecki) May 30, 2014
That after the 27-year-old pled guilty to aggravated assault charges. He allegedly choked the mother of his daughter, which through a fall caused her to break her collarbone. Despicable stuff, but the fact remains this is his first violation of the personal conduct policy (he was suspended four games last season for violating the substance abuse policy, but those two aren’t usually aligned).
Goodell has to know how much this loss will crush the Cardinals. In 2012, Washington had nine sacks (phenomenal for an inside linebacker) and 134 tackles. Pro Football Focus graded him as the third-best inside linebacker in the game. Last year was less dazzling, thanks in part to the aforementioned suspension, but he still had the fourth-best PFF pass coverage grade at that position.
Goodell has handcuffed one of the league’s strongest young teams and one of its brightest young stars, and for an entire season.
And good for him, because there’s no room in this league for guys who do what Washington pled guilty to.