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Donte Stallworth serves as a cautionary tale for rookies

donte-stallworth AP

Donte Stallworth spent a decade as an NFL wide receiver, playing for six different teams, but what he’ll always be most known for is the morning of March 14, 2009, when Stallworth struck and killed a man named Mario Reyes, a crash that led to a conviction for DUI manslaughter.

The NFL, hoping other rookies can learn from Stallworth, has asked him to speak at this weekend’s rookie symposium. Stallworth said in a FOX Sports interview with his former teammate Brendon Ayanbadejo that he’ll tell this year’s draft class that they need to make the decision not to drink and drive, and that making the wrong decision once can have dire consequences.

“These things are totally preventable. I’ve heard some people call them accidents. They are not an accident. It is not an accident when you decide to drive after you have been drinking,” Stallworth said. “We’re all grown enough to make decisions. So that means you are grown enough to formulate a plan before going out and you know you are going to have drinks, or you know there is an opportunity or chance for you to have drinks, then you should plan ahead. And that is one of the biggest messages I want to get across to these guys. DUIs are not accidents. They don’t happen by accident. You don’t drink alcohol and get in your car by accident. If you plan ahead, I think that it is one of the issues I am going to try and hit home with the rookies when I speak to them.”

Nothing Stallworth goes through will ever equal what Reyes’s family has to endure, but Stallworth does want rookies to know that one bad decision can affect them for life. In addition to spending a month in jail and a year under suspension from the NFL, Stallworth can never drive a car again.

“My driver’s license is banned for life,” he said. “I have been taking taxis, catching car services. This is part of my story, part of my life. I can’t complain at all. It is something that is another part of my story that I want to relay to these guys and let them know how fast things can change in an instant from a terrible decision.”

Stallworth wants players to think about him, and think about Mario Reyes, when they’re out drinking.

“It is something I will live with for the rest of my life,” he said. “It is something when I eventually have children one day that I will have to explain to them why their father made this decision and what they can learn from my mistake and my decision. I want it to resonate with these young guys. DUIs are totally preventable.”

That’s a message that should go without saying, but needs to be repeated often.

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56 Responses to “Donte Stallworth serves as a cautionary tale for rookies”
  1. drfeelyouup says: Jun 20, 2014 3:23 PM

    Yeah and he spent a total of 20 some days in jail for killing a man. See what happens when you have money kids?

  2. eglsfan says: Jun 20, 2014 3:27 PM

    Of course this & the Larry Little story gets glossed over. But the idiots rant & rave whenever they get a cahnce to go after Micheal Vick, who paid for what he did.

  3. 4thquartermagic says: Jun 20, 2014 3:28 PM

    Sadly these cautionary tales rarely penetrate the “Wont happen to me/I’m special/bulletproof” mentality these guys HAVE to have to play such a violent sport.

  4. Patskrieg dot com says: Jun 20, 2014 3:30 PM

    ‘For the love of god kids… stay out of hot air balloons. Man wasn’t meant to travel by balloon. Don’t be a hero!” – Stallworth

  5. cajunaise says: Jun 20, 2014 3:31 PM

    “I have been taking taxis, catching car services…”

    Don’t forget hot-air balloons.

  6. t8ertot says: Jun 20, 2014 3:36 PM

    Lesson learned: If you’re a NFL star, you can get away with anything

  7. blackandbluedivision says: Jun 20, 2014 3:36 PM

    eglsfan says:
    Jun 20, 2014 3:27 PM
    Of course this & the Larry Little story gets glossed over. But the idiots rant & rave whenever they get a cahnce to go after Micheal Vick, who paid for what he did.

    _______________________________

    But, he killed dogs! They’re more important…cuz they’re so cute and cuddly.

  8. pleazenufalready says: Jun 20, 2014 3:37 PM

    I agree with Stallworth’s assessment about it not being an “accident”……..although most of the apologists for him, and others, like to refer to these things as “mistakes”

  9. ravensterps says: Jun 20, 2014 3:43 PM

    His light jail sentence was not entirely because of his wealth. Mario Reyes was running across a highway at the break of dawn. The police admitted that even a sober driver likely would have hit Mr. Reyes.

    Donte Stallworth had a chance to fight the charges and get a lesser conviction, but he didn’t. He reached a monetary settlement with the family and pleaded guilty because he didn’t want to drag the family though a court case blaming the father’s negligence for his own death. The family agreed to his light sentence.

    I’m not defending Stallworth’s actions by any stretch of the imagination, just pointing out that the light sentence was not ONLY a product of money.

  10. bucrightoff says: Jun 20, 2014 3:43 PM

    What cautionary tale? Commit a crime, serve little punishment, straight back to work when done. I’m missing the cautionary element.

  11. weepingjebus says: Jun 20, 2014 3:45 PM

    I’m not going to climb on him for this, he made a terrible mistake and is doing what he can to keep someone else from doing the same thing. The same things that can make someone a great football player — confidence in one’s abilities, risk taking, a feeling of invincibility — get exaggerated under the influence to the point where it’s very easy to make awful decisions. If even a few of them listen to him who knows what lives might be saved.

  12. teedraper says: Jun 20, 2014 3:47 PM

    The guy was J walking. Some of you are too stupid to realize this. Stallworth went home from the club, got up hours later & alcohol was still in his system.

  13. don2074978 says: Jun 20, 2014 3:51 PM

    Donte Stallworth should not have driven drunk. But in some cases a drunk driver can get in an accident that is the result of someone else’s mistake.

    In this case their is a VIDEO of the victim JAYRUNNING (he wasn’t walking) across a highway to catch a bus against a red light,

    Have a nice day haters

  14. jlinatl says: Jun 20, 2014 3:51 PM

    I was wondering about some of those very high end dinner tabs. A steak only costs so much. It’s the wine and liquor that drives up the tabs.

    Hopefully they at least have the brains to get a car service.

    Overall, it is a difficult issue. Seems like it shouldn’t be but I would bet that a large percentage of the readers/posters on this site have gotten behind the wheel when they shouldn’t have.

    As easy as it is to mock Stallworth… and I didn’t think the sentence was harsh enough… at least he is trying to be part of the solution.

  15. jjackwagon says: Jun 20, 2014 3:53 PM

    The real lesson is, don’t try to cross interstate highways, on foot, in the dark.

  16. kuranda84 says: Jun 20, 2014 3:53 PM

    ravensterps said:

    His light jail sentence was not entirely because of his wealth. Mario Reyes was running across a highway at the break of dawn. The police admitted that even a sober driver likely would have hit Mr. Reyes.

    Donte Stallworth had a chance to fight the charges and get a lesser conviction, but he didn’t. He reached a monetary settlement with the family and pleaded guilty because he didn’t want to drag the family though a court case blaming the father’s negligence for his own death. The family agreed to his light sentence.

    I’m not defending Stallworth’s actions by any stretch of the imagination, just pointing out that the light sentence was not ONLY a product of money.
    __________________________________

    This is the story that people don’t discuss. Not that it’s ever ok to drink and drive, but Reyes was responsible for jaywalking at the break of dawn. It’s sad for everyone.

  17. Spymaster Belichick says: Jun 20, 2014 3:55 PM

    So proud to not have scum like this guy on our team. Notice how the Steelers are the standard for success on and off the field?

  18. macdaddyspeed says: Jun 20, 2014 3:57 PM

    The maximum sentence for killing an animal should never exceed the MINIMUM sentence for killing a human.

  19. thestrategyexpert says: Jun 20, 2014 4:01 PM

    Good summation by reminding everybody that the message needs to be repeated.

    Maybe Stallworth could build off of that with his speech by telling the rookies that they should share the sentiments of this story and try to teach somebody else or a group of others about this lesson as just a form of practicing what he’s preaching. And who knows, maybe some of them will save a life or two, or perhaps even their own. That would be no accident in preventing an “accident”.

  20. bobby2478 says: Jun 20, 2014 4:01 PM

    doesn’t make sense why his license was revoked for life. people who have 10 dwi’s and keep driving with a suspended license don’t lose their license for life.

    especially given the circumstances of his conviction (him pleading guilty to save family from having to go through trial)

  21. thetooloftools says: Jun 20, 2014 4:05 PM

    This message is strong and should be an attention getter for young players. The NFL also sent a beautiful women into a social setting with rookies and she got phone numbers from like 12 players. She was HIV Positive. It was shocking but that is the world we live in.

  22. nickinneohio says: Jun 20, 2014 4:08 PM

    So proud to not have scum like this guy on our team. Notice how the Steelers are the standard for success on and off the field?

    ____________________________________

    Ya! Except Biggy Ben and Holmes shooting at that helicopter!!

  23. mykpfsu says: Jun 20, 2014 4:22 PM

    “ravensterps says:
    Jun 20, 2014 3:43 PM
    His light jail sentence was not entirely because of his wealth. Mario Reyes was running across a highway at the break of dawn. The police admitted that even a sober driver likely would have hit Mr. Reyes.

    Donte Stallworth had a chance to fight the charges and get a lesser conviction, but he didn’t. He reached a monetary settlement with the family and pleaded guilty because he didn’t want to drag the family though a court case blaming the father’s negligence for his own death. The family agreed to his light sentence.

    I’m not defending Stallworth’s actions by any stretch of the imagination, just pointing out that the light sentence was not ONLY a product of money.”

    Um, no. Not even close. Stallworth himself said he saw Reyes crossing the road, admitted to flashing his lights. He spent all night drinking and blew almost double Florida limit in blood alcohol. Therefore there was nothing to fight. He tested above the limit for driving and his words on the scene confirmed he hit Reyes. The reason why he didn’t go to court was because he was only going to get 30 days by taking the pleas instead of 15 years. Also because he paid off Reyes’s family so they wouldn’t press for greater charges against him or sue him in civil court for wrongful death.

  24. mykpfsu says: Jun 20, 2014 4:26 PM

    For all those blaming the victim “According to the report, Stallworth told officers he flashed his lights to try to warn Reyes, a construction crane operator who was rushing to catch a bus after getting off work around 7:15 a.m. March 14.”

    So please explain how Stallworth could see him early enough to flash his lights, but its still Reyes fault that Stallworth didn’t stop, slow down or turn to avoid him.

  25. simonator917 says: Jun 20, 2014 4:26 PM

    Learning from your mistakes is good. Learning from other people’s, much, much, better. And it isn’t only NFL rookies who should learn from his MISTAKE. Everyone who drinks alcohol should learn from him.

  26. dannersthemanners says: Jun 20, 2014 4:41 PM

    when this happens to people that aren’t NFL stars they do time for years, not days.

  27. discountdoublecheck says: Jun 20, 2014 4:42 PM

    “Which brings me to my next point…don’t smoke crack.” – Lawrence Taylor

  28. damcmp says: Jun 20, 2014 4:43 PM

    So Smith what was the reason for this story to help the rooks or dump on Stallworth again…. give you people a pen or a microphone and you are captain of the PC police and never personally made a mistake.
    still to reporting sports if you know what that means and quit the editorializing

  29. bencoates57 says: Jun 20, 2014 4:57 PM

    How do you spell Redslins?

    R e d s k i n s

  30. getyourownname says: Jun 20, 2014 4:58 PM

    Meanwhile, Steeler trolls excused Hines Ward’s DUI because they loved to watch him cheap shot other players on the field, and they welcomed back Plaxico Burress (convicted felon) with open arms. So that’s a standard of sorts, too.

    Stallworth did what the law required. Unless you are a big believer in unbridled permanent revenge no matter what, seems to me you want people to modify their behavior and to atone for their mistakes by teaching others not to do the same thing.

  31. frazzah says: Jun 20, 2014 4:59 PM

    I disagree with Donte. Him killing a guy, who happened to be walking along at the exact same time that he came barreling down the highway drunk, was an “accident”- he just increased the probability of an accident happening by drunk driving.

  32. ravensterps says: Jun 20, 2014 5:07 PM

    mkfpfsu -

    The information you’re posting in no way disproves what I said. If you see a guy about to cross a HIGHWAY or a guy at all in the street, wouldn’t you flash your lights? And if that guy still darts out in front of your car, what more can you do? It was a highway, not a residential street. Donte said he swerved to avoid the guy but the man was running across a highway. It is not always possible to stop in that situation, sober or not.

    There’s a short stretch of a road near where I live on which 5-6 pedestrians die each year because they don’t use a crosswalk. It’s a serious and sad issue and some people here want to build short walls on each side of the road to prevent people from crossing. There’s a reason some places give tickets for jaywalking. It’s dangerous.

    Again, I’m not blaming Reyes for his death, nor am I defending Stallworth’s actions. It is NEVER okay to drive drunk. But, legally speaking, this situation is slightly more complex than the people throwing the first stone would like to admit.

  33. gridassassin says: Jun 20, 2014 5:07 PM

    Good Lord – the guy is trying to help others from his clear mistake.

  34. savocabol1 says: Jun 20, 2014 5:18 PM

    He killed a man and was still allowed to play in the NFL. Doesn’t that send the opposite intended message? This basically says that unless you are waiting your trial for murder, come on and play for us.

  35. dtr3e says: Jun 20, 2014 5:19 PM

    I still can’t get over how Stallworth and Josh Brent both killed someone drinking and driving and spent less time behind bars COMBINED than Burress and Vick. Gotta love the U.S. legal system…

  36. JSpicoli says: Jun 20, 2014 6:08 PM

    IIRC dude was running across the freeway and DS being legally drunk had nothing to do with the accident.

    Not every accident where someone had something to drink means alcohol was involved in the accident. This should be obvious, but everyone gets carried away being a hero and trying to get on the right side of the argument.

    I’m not trying to get on the wrong side, but logic dictates these cases exist.

  37. slobberknocker says: Jun 20, 2014 6:20 PM

    No excuses rookies.

    I admire Donte taking responsibility for his actions and relaying it to others. The world would be a lot better off if more of humanity did this.

  38. disorientguy says: Jun 20, 2014 6:31 PM

    To everyone complaining about the light sentence, I understand where you are coming from… But, look at how he has taken responsibility for his actions. Also look at the opportunity that not everyone has to share his story and perhaps affect more lives by his access to a broader audience. Yes, us “normal” folk wouldn’t have been given such a light sentence in most cases (although, with me working in a jail it’s actually more common than you think in my experience), us normal people don’t have the platform he has to prevent others from making the same bad decisions he has made. I commend his efforts and hope all the best for him.

  39. todoubled says: Jun 20, 2014 6:33 PM

    I get they need to have this symposium to satisfy the public but every one of those rookies will walk out of there saying “that won’t happen to me” and then most of them will get behind the wheel thinking they are okay to drive and get pulled over for a DUI if not worse. Its a flaw of being a human being. Sorry to be so cynical but thats just how some of us are wired especially the dude in the room with the huge ego.

  40. ebr362 says: Jun 20, 2014 6:51 PM

    When you look back at your NFL career, you never want to be known as the “cautionary tale”. jmho

  41. youpeopleareallthesame says: Jun 20, 2014 7:47 PM

    I love what Mike Zimmer was able to do for the Bengals… That guy is genuinely BA and as a Bengals fan I hope he continues in in Minny.
    I’m honor bound to hate him because of Poet. I havent ever seen a relatively obscure fan base hated as much as this. Even in Ohio I hate you…

    ..PS last time we came to your town, we blew you outta the water

  42. nosleeptilsb says: Jun 20, 2014 8:09 PM

    I have actually done the right thing before and still went to jail. At the club, had a few too many, a buddy with me, I called a cab, left the car at the club. Had the driver take us to Subway to get some late night eats. A long line, while in the line a couple of young african americans were in front of me. I noticed one of thems shorts were below his prostate, with nothing covering up the mess that was his arse. I loudly and proudly hollered ‘Black Crack!’ A cop came out of the kitchen, and there you go. I’m off to the big house for public intoxication, he’s off to snack on a meatball sub and a cool breeze where the sun don’t shine. You cant make this stuff up!

  43. thebiblestudent says: Jun 20, 2014 8:34 PM

    “what he’ll always be most known for is the morning of March 14, 2009, when Stallworth struck and killed a man”

    Not really. Most football fans don’t know/remember that.

  44. nomoreseasontix says: Jun 20, 2014 9:56 PM

    Admirable… And, yes, he’s an idiot.

  45. shannysux says: Jun 20, 2014 10:30 PM

    I disagree with Donte. Him killing a guy, who happened to be walking along at the exact same time that he came barreling down the highway drunk, was an “accident”- he just increased the probability of an accident happening by drunk driving.

    Yeah, I’m sure he accidently got drunk and then accidently got behind the wheel

  46. brownsclown says: Jun 21, 2014 12:02 AM

    Another reason that real football players should not associate with Braylon Edwards. Their hands turn to stone and their heads turn to mush!

  47. bigjayoakersonfan says: Jun 21, 2014 12:22 AM

    As an earlier person noted, these ‘speeches’ are often an exercise in futility. It never resonates with guys in the moment.

    If the only thing that was needed to change years of a given behavior was to constantly trot out guys to ‘tell their stories’ the prisons in this country wouldn’t be packed with re-offenders. People doing the same stuff over and over and over again.

    Same thing there. If a guy is inclined to drink and drive, rolling out Stallworth or anyone else won’t make a bit of difference.

  48. bigcalidawg says: Jun 21, 2014 12:58 AM

    Never met the cat, but know many who have. Grant High kid. My understanding is he is a solid brotha and tried to do the right thing.

    Now Onterrio on the other hand….

  49. seadawgs72 says: Jun 21, 2014 2:18 AM

    @ravensterps

    I thank you for that information. I followed the story on the mothership at the time but if we’re honest that has to be one of the worst networks to get actual facts about major athletes. I always wondered why he got off so light. I’m not one that believes athletes & celebrities get off light. At one time that may have been true but starting sometime in the 80′s to present day it seems the courts make more of am example out of the famous than show then preferential treatment if for no other reason than appearances. Your comment answered a question I’ve often pondered whenever i read in my local paper the sentences handed down for criminally negligent or vehicular homicide. Thanks again for the insight into what seemed unjust on the surface.

  50. mackie66 says: Jun 21, 2014 7:23 AM

    A life lesson for everyone,,,,Don’t run over an impaired pedestrian who staggers in front of your vehicle,,,,, while you are driving impaired.

  51. whatjusthapped says: Jun 21, 2014 8:48 AM

    My only contribution to this thread is that all NFL teams pay for a car service. Any player out on the town (city where the franchise is located) can call the car service and get transported home. So there is NO excuse for drunk driving. Even when the player is back home in Nowhere, ID, he should have enough sense to call the local taxi company.

    When you make the money that these players make, it boggles the mind why they would risk that earning potential on something as stupid as drunk driving.

  52. billh1947 says: Jun 21, 2014 10:03 AM

    Sadly these cautionary tales rarely penetrate the “Wont happen to me/I’m special/bulletproof” mentality these guys HAVE to have to play such a violent sport.
    That bulletproof mentality isnt reserved for athletes,every person who gets behind the wheel when drunk feels that way,that they wont get into an accident or they wont get stopped by the police resulting in a hefty fine and jail time.in a high population city their odds improve of not getting stopped but in smaller towns the police have nothing better to do than seek out drunk drivers yet drunks still take the risk,especially at night.now thats bulletproof mentality at its greatest.

  53. samhackney says: Jun 21, 2014 10:53 AM

    How is Stallworth qualified to speak about drunk driving!? He was stoned when he hit that guy!

  54. mzew233 says: Jun 21, 2014 2:40 PM

    It would have happened without alcohol either. You don’t just cross a road in the middle of the night

  55. agentfreak82 says: Jun 23, 2014 6:07 AM

    Please keep turds like this out of the game

  56. 23rdusernameused says: Jun 23, 2014 9:30 AM

    “Stallworth can never drive a car again”
    WOW, just wow! That’s tough!

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