Where Does An Employer’s Obligation End And A Player’s Responsibility Begin?

By Gregory Moore
Updated: August 20, 2006

This could have been Koren Robinson that fateful Wednesday night.

This could have been Koren Robinson that fateful Wednesday night.

SAN ANTONIO – Anyone remember Dwayne Goodrich? In 2003, Goodrich was driving his Mercedes Benz sedan down IH-35E and barreled into three men who were just being good Samaritans at the time.

Goodrich, who was with the Dallas Cowboys at the time, had left a strip club in the early morning of that accident and was driving at an excessive amount of speed.

His lawyers have told a civil jury that Goodrich was not drunk when he plowed into the three men but if you are believing that story, then you are making an excuse for a man who knew all to well the harsh realities of drinking and driving.

How about Leonard Little? Does that name ring a bell with anyone?

It does with me and the countless others who have felt that Little was being protected by the St. Louis Rams and, indirectly the NFL, for allowing him to continue to be employed after not being convicted once but twice for a DUI/DWI in which one case he was found guilty of causing the death of Susan Gutweiler on October 19, 1998.

Little was charged with involuntary manslaughter at that time and received such an easy sentence that he turned around and got arrested and charged again on April 24, 2004 in Ladue, Montana.

Well, if neither one of those two NFL players ring a bell or if the situations they were involved in haven’t stoked a remembrance pattern that is noteworthy, then the fact that Koren Robinson has been arrested in Minnesota is no surprise for you either.

Robinson could be suspended for a year for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.

Robinson could be suspended for a year for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.

In case you don’t know about this one, Robinson was arrested this past Wednesday doing 100 mph through a 55 mph zone and had a field sobriety test result of 0.11.

Now what makes this so tenuous is the fact that Robinson has violated the substance abuse policy and will be suspended for four games at the beginning of the season and possibly more because this would be a third violation of that policy.

When the news broke about Robinson’s latest escapade with the law, many who have taken the stance of saying that Robinson, like Little or Goodrich, have an illness and need sympathy. Many will say that it is up to Robinson’s employer to help him.

So I ask you, just how are does the NFL’s obligation in helping a player with a substance abuse problem end and where does the player’s own responsibility begin?

The NFL and the NFLPA have come up with a policy that every player knows about.

As a matter of fact, the league has a series of policies in place but one that supercedes every other one has the following phrase in it: “Engaging in violent and/or criminal activity is unacceptable and constitutes conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the National Football League”.

“Such conduct alienates the fans on whom the success of the League depends and has negative and sometimes tragic consequences for both the victim and the perpetrator. The League is committed to promoting and encouraging lawful conduct and to providing a safe and professional workplace for its employees”.

That is the first paragraph of the Personal Conduct Policy that the NFL and the players abide by and it adheres to every single other policy that the players must follow.

So how can anyone expect the NFL, a ‘corporation’ that employees hundreds of people, is expected to hold a player like Robinson by his hand?

The problem with many wanting to put the blame on the league and/or the union and not on any player is that you basically enable the player to continue the bad behavior.

We have become so lackadaisical in coddling individuals that we are so willing to appease them for their bad behavior rather than give them the reality that they should be a part of.

Many in the medical field continue to say that alcoholism is a disease and I still believe that it and or drug use is a choice issue.

There was not some impish demon sitting in Koren’s blue BMW sedan that night and saying, “Here Koren, drink this down and punch the accelerator”.

There was not somebody in his company that forced him to drink whatever consuming amounts he did and then told him, “Say man, go out there and act a fool at 100 mph”. There are no such things as demons people when it comes to alcoholism or drug addiction.

Either you made the choice to go down that path and abuse your body or you didn’t and are clean and sober every day. It only becomes an illness because of the fact that the actions you do when inebriated affect your judgment.

But is it to the extreme of where you continuously coddle these athletes who continue to break the laws of society?

Yes, I am saying that our hypocritical society is hell bent on sending Joe Drunk to the pokey for driving while drunk or under the influence for years to come but then will go to great lengths to protect the privileged, pampered professional athletes of our adoration.

Maybe Koren needs help and he should go to a substance abuse treatment facility. But the league and the union need to look at him now and say, “You are on your own, Koren. We can’t support you this time”.

When you make a mistake that gets you into a bit of trouble and being arrested for a DUI is your first offense, you deserve sympathy and support. But that’s it. That’s your mulligan on the course of life.

The moment you do the same behavior over and over again, you deserve to be cut loose from any support that you think you deserve because now it’s time for you to face the battle by your lonesome.

People may say that I’m being heartless but what’s more heartless is a grown man who knows the law and continues to break it.

He deserves to have his ass locked up in the drunk tank and be embarrassed or to be sympathetic to the family of a woman like Susan Gutweiler, who didn’t deserve to die in that fashion?

Guess which side I’m going to take on the matter? I will hang a law breaking athlete like Goodrich, Little or Robinson out to dry every single time, every single minute and each opportunity that comes up.

And the support of your employer has to stop sooner rather than later. Grown adults don’t need to be coddled; they need to be held accountable for their actions and if that means you can no longer be employed in the field that pays you millions of dollars, guess what?

That’s the price you pay for letting a bottle of whiskey, a can of beer or a drug like marijuana or crack cocaine control your life and your future.

Sometimes hard lessons need to come from when you have fallen hard into a deep sink hole and for Koren, this is a lesson that he needs to learn by himself or else he’ll continue to drink and drive and get paid millions of dollars by an employer that is enabling his bad behavior.


Believe it or not but Terrell Owens is running for office. He’s running for public office folks and this is no joke. He wants the public’s sympathy for his little hamstring twinge and he is willing to sacrifice his teammates by not practicing in order to gain your support.

Does this sound familiar?

It should because he did the same thing last year in Philadelphia. Oh by the way, in case anyone is wondering, Terrell Owens is probably now one of the most over hyped wide receivers that has ever played the game.

He has no Super Bowl victories. He has no serious career numbers that are even worth talking about putting him into Canton. He is pretty much a better-polished player of above mediocre performance than Randy Moss.

His few career highlights have afforded him nice paychecks but if anyone is thinking that Owens will lead the Dallas Cowboys to the promised land, then they are drinking some very dangerous colored water.

Owens’ actions are showing me exactly why I think he is nothing more than a demagogue in the NFL. He has everybody bamboozled into thinking that he is the answer to the Cowboys’ problems.

Even Deion Sanders believes this nonsense and I always thought Sanders was fairly intelligent. Well maybe I have to re-think my posture on Primetime now. Maybe that flip against the Carolina Panthers some years ago has done more damage that it may be perceived if he is thinking that Owens is a perfect fit for this club.

The only fit that Owens is to anyone is himself. A team player he is not. A guy who will go into the football trenches with you during training camp he is not. He would rather be treated like royalty rather than get down and dirty with the commoners known as his teammates.

Sanders wasn’t like this. Michael Irvin certainly wasn’t of this ilk. The make up of what made the Dallas Cowboys champions under two head coaches in four years doesn’t exist in Oxnard, California.

Cowboys’ fans have been looking for a ‘savior’ of sorts since the retirement of Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin and Jay Novachek and sometimes they are willing to almost settle for anything that may be a glimmer of hope.

But let’s take into account the verbal exchange that one Texas journalist had with head coach Bill Parcells and his “come to Jesus” meeting. How appropriate since Owens says it is his faith in God and that he thanks the man above for his ability to play football.

Well let’s take this a little further for Mr. Owens. See I remember another phrase that had a religious reference to it and that usually came from my mother or grandmother when it was time to get my butt back in the right frame of mind of obeying them.

Forget about the “come to Jesus” meeting Owens needs to have with Parcells. What Parcells needs to do is to let this superficial of a football talent know that if he doesn’t come into this training camp ready to give his all, “so help him God” Parcells will be forced to let him play behind Patrick Crayton.

If you don’t think that will work, think again.

If there is anything that Owens relishes more than his relationship with God, it is his relationship with dead presidents and if he doesn’t perform this season, that fat contract he got becomes just another piece of paper in his collection of wasted memoirs of a so-called great wide receiver.