Tuesday, December 19, 2006
NFL suspends Cullen one game, fines him $20K
By Len Pasquarelli
Detroit Lions defensive line coach Joe Cullen, arrested twice in the preseason, has been suspended for Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears and also fined $20,000 for what commissioner Roger Goodell termed "conduct detrimental to the league."
The rare sanctions against a coach are the result of an arrest for nude driving on Aug. 24 and for drunken driving on Sept. 1, both misdemeanor charges. Lions coach Rod Marinelli suspended Cullen for the regular season opener but, after meeting with the first-year assistant on Dec. 1, Goodell decided that further action was required.
The suspension took effect on Monday and Cullen cannot work at all with the Lions this week and cannot attend the game against the Bears.
When Cullen was suspended by the team, in September, he was permitted to work with the defensive line as the club prepared for the season opener. It is not known who will assume his duties this week. Marinelli was a longtime defensive line coach in the league before landing the Detroit head coach job, so he may take on the responsibilities.
"The league had previously informed us of this possibility, so this was not unexpected," Marinelli said in a statement. "I do want to say that I am really proud of how Joe has responded to his mistake. He has been getting treatment and has done a commendable job in dealing with his problem. He has definitely learned from his mistake and has moved forward in a very positive manner."
Cullen, 39, was ticketed and cited in August, during training camp when he allegedly went through the drive-in window at a fast-food restaurant late at night and the server noticed he was naked. A week later, he was stopped for erratic driving and registered a blood alcohol content of .12 on a breathalyzer test. The legal limit in Michigan in .08.
The two cases have been continued until Jan. 11, so that Cullen could undergo counseling.
Senior writer Len Pasquarelli covers the NFL for ESPN.com.