Feel free to read the following as part 1 in an argument for why the Super Bowl should be permanently moved to Lincoln, Neb. Part 2 tomorrow.
About 7,950 hours have passed since the sun rose over Miami Beach on March 14 – which should give you some context for the 1,000 hours of community service and 576 hours of jail time Donte Stallworth received as penalty for his actions on that fateful morning.
On March 14 – March 14, 2009 – the Browns receiver mowed down a crane operator trying to catch a bus on the way home from work.
That was ambiguous. Let me clarify: the crane operator was trying to catch a bus on his way home from work. Stallworth was trying to catch a hot breakfast on the beach after a night of drinking.
At 7:15 a.m. on March 14 – March 14, 2009 – Stallworth dented his sweet, 100-K Bentley with a husband of 20 years, a father of 15.
If you asked Catalina Reyes, or if you asked Daniela Reyes, when exactly each lost a soul mate and parent, respectively, I’m betting they’d rattle off a specific day without pause – because you can do these things when time stops.
They might say to you, again, without pause: March 14, March 14, 2009.
In Stallworth’s defense, he beeped.
He flashed his lights. And Mario Reyes wasn’t in a crosswalk. He was negotiating one of the six lanes of Miami’s MacArthur Causeway.
Stallworth was only 10 over the speed limit, .04 over the legal limit.
Nevertheless, the NFL star – the NFL star that presumably had a posse, or at least a guy that could hold his keys – slaughtered a man on the morning of March 14 (March 14, 2009).
“Slaughter” sounds gruesome, but this is what the law calls it. Man “slaughter,” which carries a sentence of 4 to 15 years, or 30 days if you’re an NFL star – an NFL star with no one to hold the keys.
If you’re lucky enough to be this type of NFL star, you serve 24 of the 30 days. And if you happen to be in Dade County at the time, you loose your state license for life, which means this kind of thing can never happen again.
Not in Florida, anyway.
Does this quite avoidable accident make Donte Stallworth a bad guy? Yes, or no. Maybe?
Does this quite avoidable accident mean Donte Stallworth did a bad thing? Yes. Absolutely.
It’s hard to tell if NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell thinks Donte Stallworth is a bad guy – you know, because he let him back in the league on Friday.
Goodell apparently feels that Donte has paid his dues. He’s gone a year without pay, spent $200,000 on bail. He also got eight years of probation, which means he’s REALLY going to be in trouble if he ever kills again.
Kills in the next eight years, anyway.
And, you know, it’s hard to tell if Catalina and Daniela Reyes think that Donte Stallworth is a bad guy – because the Reyes family settled out of court for a large, undisclosed sum.
Daniela will not have a father at her wedding, but she will probably go to a very good college. Fair tradeoff?
Rams DE Leonard Little is probably the only man that can relate to Donte Stallworth. He got loaded after a birthday party. Killed a man, too, back in 1998.
Little got the same 1,000 hours of community service and the guilt of taking another life. And, of course, the lesser guilt of taking – and failing – another breathalyzer test seven years later.
Maybe what Leonard can best relate to is the pay cut Stallworth will have to take when the Browns don’t shell out his $1,000,000 roster bonus.
Leonard made a meager $845,000 last season.
Then again, if Stallworth can fetch $845,000 during the 2010 season, he will make approximately $845,000 more than Mario Reyes will make for the rest of time.
This is a pretty good deal for Stallworth, no?
Look, don’t mean to bring you down with all this talk of death.
Just figuring that in all the Super Bowl hoopla – all the triumphant stories about Bourbon Street crazies and Deco Drive night life – you might have missed this little story about a guy who’s all too familiar with both.
And now all too familiar with March 14. March 14, 2009.