It’s hard to imagine that we got to this point in 2018, where the NFL finds it less offensive for a player to grope a female Uber driver than kneel for the National anthem, but with the Miami Dolphins recently announced team anthem policy, a player who kneels can be suspended up to four games.
AP reporting that the Dolphins will enforce a new policy this season called the "Proper Anthem Conduct." Players who protest on the field during the national anthem could be suspended up to 4 games, be hit with a fine or both.
If a player kneels four times and gets suspended for the maximum amount under owner Stephen Ross’ policy, then he could miss the entire season because he brought attention to racism, oppression and racial injustice.
It would be equivalent to the same punishment former NFL receiver Donte’ Stallworth received for crashing into and killing a pedestrian in a 2009 DUI incident. And six games less than Dallas Cowboys nose tackle Josh Brent got (10 games) in 2014 for violation of the league's personal conduct policy, after being convicted of manslaughter for a DUI that killed Cowboys teammate Jerry Brown.
Just seems so un-American.
It also makes you wonder about the longest suspensions in NFL history and how four games for kneeling compares to other penalties for various player infractions over the years. The NFL has dispensed a bunch of one and two-game suspensions for everything from illegal hits to conduct detrimental to the League.
Obviously the Dolphins are serious about their stance on standing for the anthem. As serious as the NFL has been with handling drug abusers in the sport over the years.
Excessive Drug Abuse
It took three suspensions for substance abuse for Cincinnati Bengals player Stanley Wilson to be permanently banned from the NFL on May 15th of 1989. Wilson’s is one of the more high profile substance abuse suspensions, but the NFL has a long list of players that have been suspended and thrown out of the league dating back to the league's early years.
Most of the longest suspensions in NFL history, ranging from a year to life, all involve some sort of substance abuse or hideous conduct.
Michael Vick was suspended for two seasons and served time in the penitentiary for dogfighting, so understand that if you mistreat animals you might never play in the NFL again. You can grope women though, that only cost Jameis Winston, who had more non-recollections in his questioning by the league than Oliver North did in the Iran-Contra affair, three games.
Former Indianapolis Colts QB Art Schlichter was suspended for one year in 1983 for gambling infractions. Detroit Lions player and future actor Alex Karras was also suspended for a season for the same offense in 1963. Those were the most notable and longest non-substance related suspensions that I researched that lasted one year or more.
New Orleans head coach Sean Payton got a year for his involvement in the notorious Saints Bountygate affair in 2012. Linebacker Jonathan Vilma was suspended the entire season and teammate Anthony Hargrove got eight games for their involvement in the scandal.
But in what was just another one of commissioner Roger Goodell's messy PR fumbles, ex-commissioner Paul Tagliabue was brought in to oversee the situation and reversed all of Goodell's suspensions against the players.
Gun-Toting, Pimp Smacking Funkery
Chicago Bears Defensive Tackle Tank Johnson got suspended eight games for possession of six firearms and violation of probation on other charges in 2007, and former Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry was suspended eight games that same season for violating the NFL’s conduct policy.
These suspensions would be the equivalent of a player kneeling during the anthem twice and receiving a four-game suspension each time according to how the Dolphins want to play it this season.
Pretty silly, huh?
Plaxico Burress got four games in 2008 for accidentally shooting himself with a gun he tried to sneak up into the Latin Quarters nightclub in Manhattan. He got two games for stupidity and two games for conduct detrimental to the league. The 20 months prison time was overkill though.
Adam "Pacman" Jones’ numerous suspensions for detrimental conduct off the field caused him to miss 1.5 years and included punching a stripper in the mug at a club and having his bodyguards spray up the place.
Old College Infractions
Terrelle Pryor got five games in 2011 for his Involvement in receiving improper benefits while at Ohio State
Since 2014 there's been six, 6-game suspensions all dealing with violating NFL’s conduct codes, with Ezekiel Elliott's six-game suspension from last season being the latest and most controversial lengthy punishment to date.
The Dolphins are setting a dangerous precedent by characterizing peaceful player protests as conduct detrimental to the league or in violation of any moral codes and punishing players more severely for it than most other infractions.