Friday, December 5, 2008
Jets' Ellis could still face suspension after marijuana arrest
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- A remorseful Shaun Ellis stood in front of his locker and quietly answered all the questions, eager to put his arrest for marijuana possession behind him.
"It's obviously a mistake," the New York Jets defensive end said Friday. "It's something I have to deal with. Of course, my teammates are brought in the middle of this, but we'll move past it and I will be responsible and just move on and look forward to the rest of the season."
While the team's discipline of Ellis didn't include a suspension or removal of his defensive captain status, the Jets' longest-tenured player and sacks leader could still be suspended by the NFL.
League spokesman Greg Aiello confirmed the case will be reviewed under the NFL's substance-abuse policy, but would not comment or speculate on potential discipline. According to the policy, Ellis could be suspended by commissioner Roger Goodell.
"We sat down with Shaun and discussed the situation with him, at which point we expressed our disappointment with what happened," coach Eric Mangini said. "Shaun did exactly what I expected Shaun to do, which was take full accountability for his actions and express his disappointment to us, the fans, to his teammates, to his family, to himself. At that point, we disciplined him internally and now it's a pending legal matter."
The 31-year-old Ellis was arrested last Saturday and charged with possession of marijuana, speeding and driving without insurance after being pulled over by police in Hanover, N.J., a few miles from the team's training facility.
Hanover Township Police Capt. Shawn Waldron said Ellis willingly turned over the marijuana when the officer smelled it in the car, and the defensive end said he had smoked some the night before. Waldron said Ellis had less than 50 grams on him, making it a disorderly persons offense in New Jersey.
"So it's not even really considered a crime," Waldron said.
"I think, for me, I have been a standup guy," Ellis said. "It's a bump that I ran across. People will judge, and they have the right to do so. It's my mishap. I just hope that everything can move forward and the fans still embrace me."
Mangini said the team addressed the incident shortly after it happened and disciplined Ellis internally, but would not discuss details, citing team policy. Ellis played the day after the arrest in New York's 34-17 loss to Denver, and will play Sunday at San Francisco.
"We're a tight-knit team here and we're going to support him like the brother that he is," linebacker Eric Barton said.
Ellis was speeding at 8:37 a.m. Saturday when he was pulled over, according to the police report. Waldron said Ellis was asked for his registration and insurance, but was uncooperative. "He told the officer, 'Look, you can look that up online. I don't have to show it to you,' " Waldron said, "which is not true."
The officer then used his computer to confirm the registration, which was why Ellis only got a summons for failure to exhibit it. Because proof of insurance couldn't be done through the computer, Ellis was written up for not having it.
He was also issued a summons for possession of drug paraphernalia, as well as motor vehicle summonses for speeding and failure to keep right.
"It's not been distracting," Ellis said. "It's been a disappointment. It's just something I've got to learn from and move forward."
Ellis has enjoyed a resurgence this season with a team-leading seven sacks, his most in four years. He was the 12th overall pick out of Tennessee in the 2000 draft and has 60½ career sacks.
It's the latest legal incident involving players from the New York-area NFL teams. Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress accidentally shot himself in the right thigh at a nightclub on the same day as Ellis' arrest, and Giants offensive tackle Kareem McKenzie was charged with drunken driving Nov. 14.