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Danny O'Neil covers the Seahawks for The Seattle Times.



July 17, 2012 at 10:05 AM

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A pause for perspective on potential Marshawn Lynch discipline

Marshawn Lynch arrested in California on suspicion of DUI
By Danny O'Neil | The Seattle Times

A Seahawk with two previous criminal incidents and an NFL suspension was arrested, casting his future in serious doubt.

Only we're not talking about Marshawn Lynch here.

Linebacker Leroy Hill was arrested in Georgia back in February for marijuana possession. He was arrested on a similar allegation in Georgia in 2009, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge in 2010, and then was arrested and charged with assault for a domestic violence charge shortly thereafter.

Hill had already been suspended by the league, and with his contract up in Seattle, the news of his arrest led to the assumption he would not be back.

He was never charged and re-signed with the team.

Mike Salk and Brock Huard brought up this point to begin their radio show Tuesday, and with everyone debating just how long a suspension Lynch might be facing, it's a worthy one.

An arrest is not the end point of a criminal-justice proceeding. It wasn't for Hill after he reportedly submitted to a voluntary drug test.

And Saturday's arrest may not be the end point for Lynch, either. Keep that in mind while everyone is describing Lynch as a "repeat offender" under the league's personal-conduct policy and wondering if he might miss a month or more.

The reality is that we don't know very much at all about what happened other than the fact Lynch was arrested by the California Highway Patrol on early Saturday morning in the East Bay Area.

He submitted to a blood draw once in custody, according to the San Jose Mercury News, was cited and then released.

That leaves a lot we don't know, starting with what his blood-alcohol content was measured at. The legal limit in California is 0.08 percent. We also don't know whether blood was drawn because he declined to submit to a breath test or whether it's significant that he was released with a citation instead of remaining jailed.

At this point, he has not been charged with a crime.

None of this is to minimize the allegation against Lynch, which is a serious allegation both in regard to public safety and Lynch's personal responsibility.

It's also not to argue that Lynch may wind up escaping punishment from the league. Commissioner Roger Goodell has not depended upon the courts to determine when and where he disciplines players under the personal-conduct policy. Ben Roethlisberger was never charged with a crime, but he was suspended.

But say what you want about Goodell's method of discipline, he has taken the totality of a situation into account whether it was the number of arrests Adam "Pacman" Jones racked up before his year-long suspension or the previous civil allegations against Roethlisberger.

And I think the one thing clear is that right now, we simply don't know the totality of the situation with regard to Lynch.

We know he was suspended for three games after pleading guilty to a weapons charge in 2009. We know he was arrested on Saturday near his hometown. We know there are potential ramifications from that arrest both criminal and professional. But until we know more details of that arrest, it is impossible to provide an accurate forecast on what those repercussions will be.


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