- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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Interesting take here from Zach Berman on last week's arrest of Philadelphia Eagles left tackle Jason Peters on charges of drag racing and resisting an officer by flight. Everything is new with the Eagles in the Chip Kelly era, and Zach wonders how the new coach will respond to off-field issues like the one he now faces with Peters:
Kelly's four years as coach at Oregon included high-profile legal and disciplinary issues, and he was notably heavy-handed in his response.
In 2010, Kelly suspended starting quarterback Jeremiah Masoli for the season after Masoli pleaded guilty to a second-degree burglary charge for stealing two laptops and a guitar from a fraternity house. One year later, he suspended all-American cornerback Cliff Harris indefinitely after Harris drove 118 m.p.h. on a suspended license in a rental car.
College football has no collective bargaining agreement or players' union, so an NFL coach does not have the kind of authority over players that a college coach does. But Kelly will determine who's on the team and who's starting, and it's reasonable to wonder what his approach will be with Peters or any other player who finds headlines for the wrong reasons.
Peters' first issue, once he's dealt with the legal aspects of his situation, will be the NFL itself, since this is his second arrest and it's entirely possible the commissioner could suspend him under the personal conduct policy. If that doesn't happen, it's unlikely Kelly or the Eagles could take action without a fight from the union. But the larger point here is about ongoing evaluations of players and people, and how tolerant Kelly is going to be long-term with players who find themselves in trouble off the field.
Kelly is preparing the Eagles for 2013, but he's also thinking about building a program for the long-term, and surely part of his process right now is identifying the people around whom he wants to build. Peters is a freakish talent, and when healthy he could be the best offensive lineman in the NFL. If he's that and also a guy Kelly can't trust to stay out of trouble away from the team facility, that will create an interesting situation for the new coach to address going forward. Zach's point about this possibly being a test case for Kelly and player discipline at the NFL level is well taken.