Jeff Fisher said that the St. Louis Rams knew about Isaiah Pead's incident that got him a one-game suspension from the NFL for some time. It actually happened in July 2012. And that was about all that was known, until Friday, when Pro Football Talk uncovered the actual incident itself ... via an internet search.
Pead was arrested in McKinney, Texas, for possession of less than two ounces of marijuana. He was released on a $350 bond. Three hundred and fifty dollar bond. That's nothing compared to what the NFL will dock him with a one-game suspension without pay, not to mention the missed reps.
I'm all for player discipline. The league doesn't have any choice. Players, as public figures, have to have some accountability. That said, this is a little much, too heavy-handed for my taste. Pead's crime is pretty minor. A player arrested for his first DUI does not get suspended. Where's the consistency in that?
The Rams are standing by Pead, as well they should.
"This was an incident that took place last summer," Fisher said after Thursday's OTA session, "so we dealt with it at that point knowing that the league was probably going to follow up. We were disappointed. So much time between the incident and where he's at now, I believe it is behind him. Obviously, he has to suffer the consequences and miss the game but I'm pleased with how he's bounced back and his professional approach to being a member of this team this year."
The suspension isn't going to keep the second-year running back out the battle for carries either. He doesn't have to miss time in camp, so will get plenty of reps ahead of the season.
Players and the league office are constantly at odds over discipline. The battles you hear the most about are usually related to enforcement on the field. There was no way the NFL was walking out of the last CBA negotiation, or any future CBA, without giving the commissioner's office that power. It keeps the league marketable.
But rules and discipline need structure. They need to make sense, and they need to be consistent. Marijuana possession and DUIs are synonymous with the folly of youth. Robert Quinn, Isaiah Pead ... those guys aren't hardened criminals; they're twenty-something kids who made a mistake. I'm not excusing the action itself.
Both examples are violations of the law, which is serious. But the league's reaction doesn't matchup with the crime, and worst of all, it's not consistent. Players have a reason to upset when it comes to the inconsistencies of the NFL's heavy hand. This is a pretty good example of why.