League observers closely have been, well, observing the manner in which the league office would handle the recent DUI arrest and guilty plea of Lions president Tom Lewand. Some were concerned that a double standard applies, with the NFL more inclined to punish players than coaches or front-office employees.
Late Friday afternoon, the league went a long way toward dispelling such perceptions by announcing that Lewand will be suspended 30 days and fined $100,000 for violating the league’s Personal Conduct Policy.
“You occupy a special position of responsibility and trust, and — as you have publicly acknowledged — your conduct must be consistent with someone in that position,” Commissioner Roger Goodell told Lewand in a letter. “As we have discussed, those who occupy leadership positions are held to a higher standard of conduct that exceeds what is ordinarily expected of players or members of the general public.
“I commend you for your candor, your willingness to accept responsibility, and your publicly-stated recognition that this incident affects the reputation of the Lions and the NFL.”
The details of the league’s release hint that Lewand’s suspension will not occur without pay, and that instead he’ll forfeit $100,000 as his “total financial sanction.” Without knowing Lewand’s overall compensation, it’s impossible to know whether the fine equates to a specific time period of his salary.
Still, given that players typically aren’t suspended for a first-time DUI incident, Lewand’s situation shows that, at least in this case, the league is willing to hold non-players to a higher standard than players.