What Should Happen to Owen Schmitt?

As most of you are aware by now, Owen Schmitt was recently arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in Black Diamond, Washington. His blood-alcohol content was measured at .151 and .161, twice the legal limit in Washington State.

What a knucklehead.

At twice the legal limit, Schmitt should’ve known better than to get behind the wheel. An obvious demonstration of poor judgment; it is fortunate that no one was hurt or even killed. Schmitt will obviously be subject to discipline from the NFL, but a suspension is not likely since it is a first offense.

This is the second time this offseason that a Seattle player has been arrested. Last January, linebacker Leroy Hill was arrested on drug charges after police found him asleep in his car at an intersection. Although Hill was not charged with driving under the influence, one can only imagine the reason he was asleep behind the wheel. He was charged with a misdemeanor after police allegedly found marijuana in his car.

In a similar scenario to Schmitt’s, linebacker Lofa Tatupu was arrested last offseason on driving under the influence charges, with blood-alcohol content measured to be between .155 and .158.

Both Hill and Tatupu have remained on the Seahawks roster without further incident. In fact, Leroy Hill was “rewarded” a large contract by Seattle despite the offseason arrest. Both were first time offenders, and neither player received a suspension from the NFL.

So what happens to Schmitt?

Owen Schmitt, a former fifth-round draft choice from West Virginia, is supposed to compete for the starting fullback spot this coming season. He has shown a lot of potential and a strong work ethic while on the field, and his hard-nosed style of play is perfect for a bruising NFL fullback.

That being said, the Seattle Seahawks are an organization that is committed to character, and holds players to the highest standard on and off the field. Fortunately for Schmitt (and fans who enjoy him in a Seahawks uniform), this is his first offense and the first real blemish on his résumé. So because of that, I think that Owen Schmitt should be given a chance at redemption – assuming he is sincerely remorseful for his poor conduct.

I suppose that is a part of the problem, however. As fans, we don’t really know if Schmitt is remorseful. Sure, he issued a statement claiming regret; the same carbon copy that we see from every athlete who ends up in the same scenario:

“I sincerely apologize to the team, the NFL, the fans and my family and friends for my actions and poor judgment. I fully understand the seriousness of this matter, and I am disappointed in myself. I am committed to earning back the trust of everyone affected.”

Honest? To be determined. Owen Schmitt will definitely have to prove himself to everyone. But for now, I’ll trust in the organization to make the right choice.

This is all in the wake of Donté Stallworth’s enormous mistake, where his actions resulted in the death of Mario Reyes. Schmitt, fortunately, did not kill anyone. We can’t persecute him based on “what ifs” because that wouldn’t be just. I think everyone involved understands the severity of the situation and how dangerous drunk driving can be.

It is extremely fortunate that Owen Schmitt isn’t going on trial for manslaughter. But it wouldn’t be reasonable to equate Schmitt’s error to Stallworth’s – although the result could have been similar, it wasn’t. Let Schmitt count his blessings and learn from his mistakes, and we’ll hope he isn’t stupid enough to do anything like that again.

You know, stupid … like driving while drunk.

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Tags: Black Diamond Blood-alcohol Content Donte Stallworth Drunk Driving DUI Fullback Justin Griffith LeRoy Hill Lofa Tatupu Manslaughter Mario Reyes NFL Owen Schmitt Seattle Seahawks Suspension Tim Ruskell West Virginia

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