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Donte Stallworth Suspended For the Season "Without Pay"

By Brian Kumnick on August 14, 2009 | Last updated on March 21, 2019
Prior Bonus Payment Means He Takes Just a 14% Pay Cut

Cleveland Browns receiver Donte Stallworth has received his penalty from the NFL. Stallworth pleaded guilty to DUI manslaughter charges after he struck and killed a man while driving drunk. His guilty plea netted him a 30-day jail sentence, and he also made a financial settlement with the victim's family.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell lacks the authority to send a man to jail, of course, but he struck about as hard as he could on Thursday, suspending Stallworth for the entire 2009 season, without pay. Stallworth cannot participate in any team activities until after the Super Bowl.
Goodell also wrote Stallworth a letter, in which he chastised Stallworth for placing a "stain" on the reputations of the NFL and its players. With the suspension, Goodell continued his strict enforcement of the league's player-conduct policies, which has been a noticeable feature of his tenure as commissioner.

The suspension also highlights the intricate and bizzarre world of NFL accounting. Stallworth's no-pay suspension will cost him $745,000, even though, with a seven-year, $35 million contract, you would expect that a full year off "without pay" would mean the loss of about $5 million, give or take.

But Stallworth had already been paid $4.5 million in the form of a bonus just before the crash, money which he will hold onto -- or, one would hope, will fork over to the victim's family as part of that private settlement. His actual salary for the season -- that other $745,000 -- will be taken away, meaning that Stallworth takes a 14% pay cut this year to not play football.

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