Conduct detrimental

November 08, 2005

The milk of human kindness must run thick in the veins of National Football League owners. In recent years, they have forgiven football players arrested for assault and domestic abuse, charged with murder, caught drunken-driving and flunked by testers for all manner of drugs. A criminal conviction won't necessarily get a player kicked off a team - as long as he can serve his sentence in the off-season. The NFL is not unique among professional sports organizations in this regard, but it has left fans to wonder: What is unforgivable?

Turns out, the line isn't drawn around the criminal code. More like the playground code. Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens was suspended Saturday for "conduct detrimental to the team." It appears the clincher was his recent bad-mouthing of the organization and the team's quarterback, Donovan McNabb. In a television interview last week, Mr. Owens agreed with speculation that the Eagles would be better off with Green Bay's Brett Favre as quarterback.

Mr. Owens is considered among the best ever at his position, and his employers have put up with his juvenile antics in the past. But the soap opera might be coming to a close. Coach Andy Reid announced yesterday that Mr. Owens won't return to play for the team this season. Amid all the distraction, the Eagles lost to rival Washington on Sunday to remain in last place in their division. Losing games? That's the kind of thing that can get a football player in a lot of trouble.

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