New England Patriots rising cornerback Alfonzo Dennard was sentence to third days in prison today for assaulting a police officer after a fight outside a bar in Nebraska. The former Cornhuskers standout will also be on probation for two years, so that’s a lengthy safeguard to ensure Dennard stays clean. He’s had no priors, so the jail sentence was expected to be brief. Some people were overly optimistic and thought Dennard would be able to skip out on jail time completely, but most people thought he would get between 90 and 180 days. You can say that Dennard got off the hook, but I don’t know enough about this kind of stuff to make a judgement call.
Anyway, NFL Insider Ian Rapoport tweeted that the NFL will review Alfonzo Dennard’s case and ruling, but they have not made a decision yet. Dennard will not miss any NFL time as a result of the sentence, because the 30 days will be served starting on the 1st of March in 2014. In fact, Dennard won’t be missing training camp or even OTAs, so he’s in the clear as far as football goes.
Roger Goodell is going to try to make sure Dennard isn’t in the clear, because I get the feeling he wants to discipline Dennard and let the hammer fall on the former seventh-round pick. Maybe he thinks Dennard got off to easily, and he might not be the only one. The issue is whether or not Goodell can suspend Dennard, because I don’t think he can.
Greg Bedard was adamant a couple of months ago that Dennard cannot be suspended, because he was in that “buffer zone” between being a collegiate player for Nebraska and being a cornerback for the New England Patriots. I agree that Goodell doesn’t have the jurisdiction to suspend Dennard as a result of that, and I don’t think he should be able to suspend Dennard even if he wants to. \
The NFLPA is going to make sure that Goodell doesn’t suspend Dennard, and I think they would clearly win that argument against the NFL. Whether or not Dennard deserves to be suspended by the league isn’t the point, and the Patriots are likely not focused on this. If you think their outlook on drafting a CB in the draft will change based on Dennard’s status, then I would vehemently disagree with you. Dennard probably won’t be suspended, and the Pats won’t make a call on drafting a player for the future based on the chance of Dennard missing a few games.
We’ll monitor this situation closely, but I doubt the NFL can do anything about it. And heck, we don’t even know if they want to take action, because all Rapoport stated is that the league is just looking at what happened in the Patriots corner’s assault case.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.