LeVeon Bell: Three Games? Maybe.

Will LeVeon Bell's three game suspension be reduced?

Here we go again, another off-season and another NFL star suspended. This time it is Le'Veon Bell who was just slapped with a three game suspension from last August’s arrest for driving under the influence (DUI) of a controlled substance and possession of marijuana. According to NFLPA spokesman Carl Francis, Bell got a two game suspension for the DUI and a one game suspension plus an additional one game fine for the possession charge.

This is a devastating blow for owners of fantasy football’s top player.   In redraft leagues, opinions vary greatly whether this three game ban is enough to knock Bell from the top spot in this year’s fantasy drafts, but that debate may be premature until we see the outcome of Bell’s appeal.

The NFL adopted a new drug policy this past September and now a DUI automatically triggers a two-game suspension when previously, a player didn’t receive any suspension for their first DUI. The Possession of marijuana charge on the other hand can trigger a suspension of up to four games.

Hurting Bell’s chances of winning an appeal is that he pled guilty to the DUI and the possession charge in February. It did not matter that he was allowed to enter a city program for first time offenders that if completed, would allow the charges to be dismissed and expunged from his record. Unfortunately for Bell, the NFL does not recognize whether his legal record is wiped clean, only that he actually pled guilty to the charges.

After the legal chaos of last season, the NFL appears to be taking a much harder line on all violations of league rules by providing more clarity on fines and taking the arbitrary nature of the fines out of the Commissioner’s hands.   Previously, a first time offender of any rule could expect to get a mere slap on the wrist or a reduction of a suspension. Such a reduction would be especially tough to justify in this case since LeGarrette Blount, a passenger Bell’s car, who was also charged with marijuana possession but not a DUI, received a one-game suspension. It seems quite unrealistic that the league would ignore their new rules and wipe Bell’s DUI suspension, especially since a DUI is far more serious than mere possession of marijuana.  Hurting yourself is one thing, putting the safety of others in jeopardy is quite another.

However … there is always a however … all hope is not lost. There is a possibility that Bell can get the DUI suspension thrown out entirely, or perhaps reduced to just one game. When the new rules were announced last September, the NFL informed players and their agents that they had until November 1st to complete any pending cases in order for them to fall under the previous drug policy. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Bell’s plea deal couldn’t be settled until February due to the slow process of the city’s court system. Bell’s attorneys could argue that Bell was in the process of settling his case, but that there was not enough time to do so before November 1st due to no fault of his own.  

Will the NFL buy this argument? We shall see. 

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