A Dissent on the Foregone Conclusion of Lynch’s Suspension


In the last few days, there have been all kinds of opinions and rumors flying around as to what will happen with Marshawn Lynch.  While I by no means know what is going to happen, I do think some details have emerged that lead me to disagree with some fellow writers at 12th Man Rising.  I am not so certain that Lynch will in fact be suspended, and if he is, not immediately.

First, the details.  Lynch was stopped early Saturday morning for swerving while driving a white van and nearly hitting two cars.  After submitting to a breathalyzer, Lynch’s BAC was observed to be 0.08, which is the legal limit.  He then agreed to come into the station and take a blood test which showed his BAC to be 0.10 – still not that high, but definitely over the legal limit.

There are two important points here.  First a 0.08 does not absolutely mean he had a 0.08 BAC since breathalyzers have variance issues.  These variances have been used to legally discredit, or at least question, the results they provide.  Second, the blood test given at the station took place an hour after his arrest and does not indicate his state while driving.  He was in Emeryville, near where he grew up, so he could have easily been about to get off the freeway and have been to his destination within an hour.  Consequently, Lynch is going to plead not-guilty and has waived his right to a speedy trial which means this case will probably not be tried for about a year.

While I have no doubt of Roger Goodell’s sanctimoniousness and hammer-handedness, there are a couple important issues at play when it comes to an NFL suspension.  First, if Goodell acts soon, he will absolutely not have all the facts.  He might not care about that, but in a case where there is no victim, unlike Dez Bryant’s case where he struck his mother, I think that the facts are more important, since everything is merely alleged at this point and no damage was actually done.  Also, a DUI falls under the NFL’s substance abuse policy, not personal conduct.  Marshawn Lynch has no prior issues with substance abuse and therefore, in my mind and Chris Mortenson’s, suspension is not a certainty.

I realize that this story is big news, especially in Seattle where paying attention to the Mariners’ self-flagellation has gotten old, but it is important to keep it all in perspective.  The Seahawks are obviously not jumping to any conclusions at this point and as more the facts come out, I am less and less sure that Lynch is a lock to be suspended.  At this moment, I’m leaning more toward a fine.  I also think that it would behoove Goodell to wait and see what the facts are.  The NFL is not a legal adjudicator, and can do whatever it wants, but, to maintain credibility, I feel that when there is no immediate victim or tangible destruction to be used to prove that some outcome took place due to a players’ behavior, it is better to have all the facts before acting.