Goodell makes an example of Tom Lewand

July, 30, 2010
7/30/10
7:38
PM ET
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- I just got finished watching the Chicago Bears' opening practice of training camp and will be sharing some extended observations shortly. But first, let's catch up on two significant developments out of Detroit.

The first happened moments ago: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Lions president Tom Lewand for 30 days and will fine him $100,000 for his drunken driving arrest last month. There isn't much of a precedent for executive discipline under the NFL's personal conduct policy, but it's fair to equate this with a four-game suspension for a player.

Executive salaries are closely-guarded secrets in the NFL, and so we don't know how the fine relates to Lewand's overall income. But whether he makes $2 million or $250,000 annually, this fine was substantial and, as we'll discuss in a bit, significantly more than you would expect a player to receive in a similar instance.

Lewand was arrested June 25, and he eventually registered a .20 and .21 reading on a blood-alcohol meter. He pleaded guilty earlier this month to driving while impaired and was sentenced to six months probation while paying $870 in court fees and costs.

We wondered whether Goodell would apply the same standards in this case as he does with players, and that discussion has continued Friday evening over on the NFC North Twitter feed. In fact, @swarheit suggested that "as a first time offender, [there would have been] no suspension if Lewand was a player."

As it turned out, @swarheit was correct. Shortly after our Twitter discussion, Goodell acknowledged that he held Lewand to a higher standard. Here's an excerpt of Goodell's suspension letter to Lewand:
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. 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.

So there you go. Upon reflection, I think Goodell's reaction was appropriate. Lewand is the highest-ranking executive in the Lions organization. He has an obligation to set an example that simply doesn't apply to, say, a second-year running back.

Frankly, Lewand is lucky to have the support of the Ford family. There are many, many businesses and organizations who would have fired him over this incident.

On a much lighter note, the Lions agreed to terms Friday afternoon with running back Jahvid Best, meaning he will be under contract for the first practice of training camp Saturday afternoon. This deal seemed imminent based on coach Jim Schwartz's comments earlier Friday.

Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, on the other hand, seems fated to be the NFC North's only holdout. As a blog community, can we all agree not to panic on this issue until at least a week has gone by? Thanks in advance.

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