Let’s assume for the sake of daydreaming that Michael Bennett is completely innocent of the charges brought against him in a Texas court which date back to an alleged shoving incident some 13 months ago at Super Bowl LXI.
There is still the looming shadow of Roger Goodell threatening to discombobulate the groovy offseason addition of Bennett to the Eagles’ defensive line.
An attorney who also covers sports legal issues for SI.com named Michael McCann gives us a complete legal analysis of the case against Bennett, but also tells us how Goodell and the NFL could also get involved long before a potential trial even occurs:
“It is unlikely that either the Eagles or NFL will take any immediate action against Bennett. As explained above, Bennett being accused of a crime should not be equated to Bennett committed a crime. This is particularly true in a legal dispute where little is known about the strength of the evidence. While NFL commissioner Roger Goodell could technically punish Bennett before the case develops, such a move would seem unfair on its face and would likely trigger a challenge by the National Football League Players Association.
“That said, if Bennett is ultimately found at fault, the NFL could punish him. The league would surely be dismayed that Bennett injured anyone at a game, but injuring an elderly paraplegic person would be even worse. Under Article 46 of the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, Goodell can fine or suspend players “for conduct detrimental to the integrity of, or public confidence in, the game of professional football.”
The point being, even if the case is dismissed with a “no contest” plea and a probationary slap on the wrist, or dismissed outright based upon a lack of sufficient evidence to convict, the NFL could decide there was enough smoke damage to suspend Bennett anyway. Last season’s suspension of Zeke Elliott is a case in point.
If it goes down like that, there goes (at least for a big chunk of the next season) the “air of electricity” thinking about what’s ahead for Bennett as he joins a loaded Eagles defensive front with Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Tim Jernigan, Derek Barnett, Haloti Ngata, Chris Long and Steven Means.
Dreaming about that new toy we had with ALL its working parts was fun while it lasted.
Our local correspondent DUTCH RUBB warned us when we traded for Bennett that he brings a mixed bag of good intentions yet unpredictable, somewhat compulsive behavior. With the possible exception of linebacker Nigel Bradham, we have been blessed recently with a team roster of incredibly level-headed guys off the field. Guys who are easy and fun to root for…guys who don’t get their names in the newspaper outside the sports section, unless it’s for some admirable social work or good deed. We had a nice thing going.
I’m more than willing to hear out Bennett’s side of the story. I’m no stranger to the history of corruption in southern justice, either. I’m just a little concerned that where there’s smoke there’s fire, and Michael Bennett may be one of those reasons we can’t have nice things anymore.