Here we are, just a month away from the opening of NFL camps and one of the many things with which owners need to concern themselves as they head into this year’s fantasy football draft is whether or not they have a tight enough grasp on how the legal system will affect some on their draft lists.

Under normal circumstances, a player returning to the league after a year off, (usually due to injury), that has the exceptional athletic ability of a Michael Vick, could be counted on a sleeper list; a late round possibility with the potential to return big dividends.  In Vick’s case, however, it may be months before we find out if he’ll play at all.  After serving nineteen months in federal prison for his part in organizing an extensive interstate dog fighting ring, Vick is under house arrest until July.  Having been suspended indefinitely by Roger Goodell, Vick must then convince the NFL commissioner that he is worthy of reinstatement; no small task.  Then, and only then, can Vick and his agent embark on the difficult course of finding a team willing to withstand the public relations mess that will certainly accompany a Vick signing.

At the wide receiver position, the status of one potential star remains up in the air while another seems to have lost all value heading into this year’s fantasy football draft.  Plaxico Burress walked into a New York nightclub last year and, literally, shot the Giants’ Super Bowl chances right in the leg.  His own.  He was arrested that night for the pistol he was carrying in the waistband of his pants and has since found himself on the radar of none other than New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, who wants to make an example of Burress as part of his tough stance against guns.  Waived by the Giants and awaiting a September court date that will likely lead to a 2010 trial, Burress is in search of a team.

The case of Cleveland receiver Donte’ Stallworth, as played out in the Miami court system, is one that defies all logic.  After pleading guilty to DUI manslaughter charges for running down a Miami pedestrian and arranging a plea bargain, Stallworth will serve just thirty days in jail.  There are additional penalties that are a part of the deal.  He must serve two years of house arrest, an eight year probation term and submit to drug and alcohol testing.  He also reached an undisclosed financial settlement with the victim’s family and will perform 1,000 hours of community service as well as having  his driver’s license permanently suspended.  None of hese sanctions, however, would have prohibited him from continuing his NFL career.

That is, until Goodell stepped in.  Noting that, while the criminal justice system had detremined legal consequences, it was the duty of the commissioner to determine league discipline.  To that end, Goodell suspended Stallworth immediately and indefinitely.  Keep in mind, however, that while most expect the ban to be for at least a year, all parties involved will meet soon to determine the actual length of the penalty.

So, head right out and buy those Fantasy Football Draft previews.  You might want to pick up a copy of The Law Review while you’re at it.

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