With news coming down that Ray Rice will be suspended a mere two games for knocking out his wife and then dragging her unconscious body out of an elevator, we figured it would be constructive to look back at the length and severity of other notable NFL suspensions from the past.
May 15, 1989: Bengals fullback Stanley Wilson banned from the NFL for life for cocaine abuse. Wilson had previously been suspended for the entirety of the 1985 and 1987 seasons for testing positive for cocaine.
Aug. 26, 2007: Falcons quarterback Michael Vick suspended indefinitely after pleading guilty to his involvement in a dog-fighting ring. Vick served 19 months in prison, and was later reinstated by Roger Goodell in July 2009. In the end, he was effectively suspended for just two games.
May 17, 2007: Titans cornerback Adam Jones suspended a season for various violations of the league's personal conduct policy. He'd had numerous run-ins with police, the most serious stemming from his presence at a club shooting that left one man paralyzed. Roger Goodell wrote a letter to Jones detailing the suspension. Part of it read as follows:
Your conduct has brought embarrassment and ridicule upon yourself, your club, and the NFL, and has damaged the reputation of players throughout the league. You have put in jeopardy an otherwise promising NFL career, and have risked both your own safety and the safety of others through your off-field actions. In each of these respects, you have engaged in conduct detrimental to the NFL and failed to live up to the standards expected of NFL players. Taken as a whole, this conduct warrants significant sanction.
Aug. 13, 2009: Browns wide receiver Donté Stallworth suspended an entire season after pleading guilty to a DUI manslaughter charge. Stallworth had hit and killed a pedestrian while driving under the influence, and served 30 days in prison.
May 2, 2012: Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma suspended for a full season for his participation in the Saints' bounty program. Vilma wound up playing in 11 games during the 2012 season, though, as his suspension was eventually overturned.
Drug-related suspensions (various lengths)
Since Roger Goodell took over as NFL comissioner in 2006, over 70 players have also been suspended for violating the league's substance abuse policies. Some of these suspensions were due to positive tests for performance enhancing drugs, while others came from positive tests for "drugs of abuse" such as marijuana.
Most recently, Colts wide receiver LaVon Brazill and Chiefs offensive lineman Rokevious Watkins were suspended four games each for testing positive for "drugs of abuse." Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington was suspended for the entire 2014 season after testing positive for drugs for a second time.
In November of last year Jaguars wide receiver Justin Blackmon was suspended for the final eight games of the season after violating the league's substance abuse policy for a second time. Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon is still facing a potential season-long ban for smoking marijuana.
May 17, 2007: Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry suspended eight games, also for violations of the league's personal conduct policy. Henry had previously been suspended two games for testing positive for marijuana, and had been arrested on weapons charges, driving under the influence, and serving alcohol to minors leading up to his eight-game suspension.
June 5, 2007: Bears defensive tackle Tank Johnson suspended eight games for possessing six unregistered firearms and violating his probation from a previous gun charge.
May 2, 2012: Former saints defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove was suspended for his participation in the Saints' bounty program. Despite his suspension eventually being overturned, Hargrove didn't play a game in 2012.
April 21, 2010: Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger suspended six games (later reduced to four) after being accused of sexually assaulting a 20-year-old woman. The charges were later dropped, but Goodell justified the suspension in a letter to Roethlisberger:
The Personal Conduct Policy makes clear that I may impose discipline "even where the conduct does not result in conviction of a crime' as, for example, where the conduct 'imposes inherent danger to the safety and well being of another person."
Oct. 2, 2006: Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth suspended five games for stomping on Cowboys center Andre Gurode's head after Gurode's helmet had fallen off during a play. Gurode required 30 stitches, and commissioner Roger Goodell proclaimed that there was "absolutely no place in the game, or anywhere else, for the inexcusable action that occurred in yesterday's Titans-Cowboys game," when handing down the suspension.
Aug. 18, 2011: Former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor suspended five games for receiving impermissible benefits while playing at Ohio State. Pryor had not yet been drafted into the NFL when this suspension was handed down.
Dec. 3, 2008: Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress suspended four games for accidentally shooting himself in the leg at a night club.
May 2, 2012: Saints defensive end Will Smith suspended four games for his participation in the Saints' bounty program. He was able to play in all 16 games that season, however, because his suspension was eventually overturned.
July 1, 2010: Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson suspended three games for violating the league's personal conduct policy. Jackson was suspended after his second DUI arrest in three years.
May 2, 2012: Former Saints linebacker Scott Fujita suspended three games for his involvement in the Saints' bounty program. His suspension was eventually overturned, but he only played in the first four games of the season before getting injured.
Aug. 20, 2012: Free agent cornerback Aaron Berry suspended three games after being arrested twice in one month. He was first arrested for allegedly pointing a gun at three people in a parking lot, and later for driving while under the influence.
Nov. 26, 1986: Packers defensive end Charles Martin suspended two games for body-slamming quarterback Jim McMahon in a game. At the time, it was the most serious suspension that then-commissioner Pete Rozelle had ever handed down. Here's how that hit looked:
Nov. 24, 2011: Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh suspended two games after stomping on Green Bay Packers lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith's arm.
Oct. 21, 2013: Washington safety Brandon Meriweather suspended two games (later reduced to one) for making too many head-to-head hits in games.
July 24, 2014: Ravens running back Ray Rice suspended two games after knocking out his wife and dragging her out of an elevator.
And this, from our friends at Sports on Earth, is a good illustration of what kinds of offenses get the biggest suspensions: