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I decided to hop on over to Merryfield’s (the bar my daughter works at) to get a bite to eat and a cold brewsky. While I was sipping on my Blue Moon and waiting for my fried oyster platter, I overheard a customer loudly discussing something that obviously aggravated him. “It’s just not right” he declared sloshing his Coors Lite as he waived his hand through the air. “He’ll probably be back to playing football in 6 months.” “You’re wrong,” replied Joe the bartender with a serious look on his face. “He’s got house arrest. It’ll be a year or two before he’s back.” A gum-chewing waitress waiting for her drinks chimed in, “If it had been me or you, we’d have spent the rest of our lives in jail.”
In case you haven’t been watching the news, they’re talking about Cleveland Browns wide receiver Donte Stallworth. Back in March, Stallworth raced around a stopped vehicle to beat a red light and plowed into 59 yo Mario Reyes, killing him. Reyes was walking to a bus stop on his way to work as a crane operator. At the time of the accident, Stallworth’s blood alcohol level was .126, way above Floida’s limit of .08. I was wondering what actually represents a .126 blood alcohol level? Using a calculator I found on Google, over a 2 hour period a 225 lb man would have to consume eight 1 1/2 oz shots or six 12 oz malt liquors to reach a .116. So it seems Stallworth had been drinking somewhat heavily prior to deciding to beat that red light…
As part of a plea agreement to his DUI manslaughter charge, Stallworth was sentenced to 30 days in jail and 10 years probation. He also loses his license for life, must spend two years of his probation in house arrest, and is required to perform 1,000 hours of community service. On top of that, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has suspended Stallworth from the NFL indefinitely, whatever that means.
Obviously, the folks over at Merryfield’s think Stallworth got off easy. I’m sure Mario Reyes’ family thinks he got off easy. But did he? I’m sure he didn’t mean to kill the man and now he lost his license permanently, will have a record of manslaughter, will spend time in prison and house arrest, and will probably never play professional football again. But on the other hand, Mario and his family suffered the ultimate punishment. Mario’s dead. He will never do anything ever again.
I think that since Stallworth’s blood alcohol level was so much higher than the legal limit, it moves the situation from a terrible accident to reckless disregard for human life and the punishment should have reflected that. What do you think? Do you think the punishment fit the crime? Or do you think Stallworth got off easy because of his celebrity status and that the average Joe would have been subjucted to a much harsher punishment? Leave me a comment and tell me how you feel.