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Conviction or not, NFL could come down hard on LeSean McCoy

The investigation into LeSean McCoy’s alleged involvement in a brawl inside a Philadelphia nightclub on Sunday that left two off-duty police officers hospitalized continued Wednesday.

Philadelphia TV station WPVI-TV reported that arrest warrants are expected to be issued for McCoy and three other suspects, and that the two off-duty officers involved will not face charges. A charge of aggravated assault will be recommended, according to the station.

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, however, has yet to make that official announcement, with a spokesman saying late Wednesday afternoon that none was expected by the end of the day.

If McCoy is ultimately arrested, what could happen?

Even if he’s not convicted, there is still the possibility of NFL discipline.

The NFL’s personal conduct policy states: “If you are convicted of a crime or subject to a disposition of a criminal proceeding, you are subject to discipline. But even if your conduct does not result in a criminal conviction, if the league finds that you have engaged in conduct (prohibited by the policy), you will be subject to discipline.”

The policy, first implemented in 1997 and enhanced in 2007, was strengthened again prior to the start of the 2015 season. It calls for a baseline suspension of six games without pay for violations involving “assault, battery, domestic violence, dating violence, child abuse, other forms of family violence, or sexual assault, with consideration given to possible mitigating or aggravating circumstances.”

The key part of the policy reads: “It is a privilege to be part of the National Football League. Everyone who is part of the league must refrain from conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the NFL. This includes owners, coaches, players, other team employees, game officials, and employees of the league office, NFL Films, NFL Network or any other NFL business.

“Conduct by anyone in the league that is illegal, violent, dangerous, or irresponsible puts innocent victims at risk, damages the reputation of others in the game, and undercuts public respect and support for the NFL. We must endeavor at all times to be people of high character; we must show respect for others inside and outside our workplace; and we must strive to conduct ourselves in ways that favorably reflect on ourselves, our teams, the communities we represent, and the NFL.”

The Buffalo News examined dozens of arrest records and subsequent suspensions handed out by the NFL dating to 2007 in search of cases most similar to the one involving McCoy.

While they are not apples-to-apples comparisons – especially since the league’s personal conduct policy was strengthened prior to the 2015 season – here are a few examples, along with their outcomes:

• Philadelphia Eagles safety Keelan Johnson was arrested in 2014 for assault after striking a police officer and disorderly conduct during a disturbance in a Tempe, Ariz., bar. He pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and was later released by the Eagles. He has not played in the NFL since his arrest.

• Denver Broncos safety T.J. Ward was suspended for one game to start the 2015 season after his 2014 arrest on assault charges for throwing a glass at a bartender. Those charges were dropped after Ward went through a diversion program.

• In 2014, Bears wide receiver Josh Morgan and Browns wide receiver Davone Bess were arrested for assault. Morgan never faced NFL discipline, while Bess – who was accused of assaulting a police officer at a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., airport – was released by Cleveland and has not played in the NFL since that time.

• In 2013, Chargers linebacker Thomas Keiser, Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton and Raiders linebacker Kaluka Maiava all were arrested on assault charges, but none of them faced NFL discipline.

• In 2012, Vikings running back Caleb King was arrested for assault after a man went to the hospital with a skull fracture. King was released my Minnesota and never played in the NFL again.

• Cincinnati Bengals running back Cedric Benson was arrested twice for misdemeanor assault in 2010-11, receiving a three-game suspension that was later reduced to one game.

• Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Akeem Jordan was arrested for assault after an incident in a Virginia bar in 2011, but did not face discipline from the NFL.

• Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen was arrested for assault of a police officer during a 2011 traffic stop and sentenced to three years probation and a $10,000 fine. He did not face additional NFL discipline.

• Titans quarterback Vince Young was arrested for assault for his role in a fight in a Dallas strip club in 2010, but was not suspended by the league.

• Cleveland Browns receiver Braylon Edwards was not suspended for punching someone inside a nightclub. He pleaded no contest to aggravated disorderly conduct and received probation, a suspended 180-day jail sentence and a $1,000 fine.

• In 2009, former Bills safety Ko Simpson famously told police he was “worth millions” while being arrested for hindering their arrest of another man inside a South Carolina bar. Simpson was sentenced to 50 hours of community service, but did not get suspended by the league.

• In 2008, Vikings offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie was suspended four games for his role in a brawl outside a Miami nightclub. McKinnie allegedly spit on a security guard.

• In 2007, Dolphins defensive tackle Fred Evans was arrested for battery on a police officer. He pleased no contest and was fined $1,310. He was released by Miami and later signed with Minnesota, serving a two-game NFL suspension.

• Dolphins linebacker Joey Porter was fined three game checks, but not suspended for his role in a 4-on-1 attack of Bengals left tackle Levi Jones at a Las Vegas casino in 2007.

email: jskurski@buffnews.com

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