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It pays to be a pro

June 16, 2009 - Per Peterson
We’ve had more than our share of on-the-road fatalities in the last couple of years in our region, and the results of those found guilty of the crimes that led to those deaths now find themselves in prison for quite a long time. Too bad for their sake they’re not professional athletes. Cleveland Browns wide receiver Donte’ Sallworth pleaded guilty on Tuesday in Florida to a DUI manslaughter charge in the crash that killed a 59-year-old construction worker in March. Tests showed Stallworth’s blood-alcohol content was .126. But a plea deal announced Tuesday means the 28-year-old pro athlete will serve 30 days in jail and spend 10 years on probation, to go along with 1,000 community service hours. Thirty days! In other words, Stallworth extended his arm, palm up, and someone slapped his wrist. Then mommy probably took his ball away from him and told him to go sit in his cell and think about what he did. After that horribly long 30 days are up, Stallworth can resume his rock-star life and his career with the Browns, or some other team willing to cough up a multi-million dollar contract for his services. Perhaps he and Michael Vick can be the commissioners of their own league that employes ex-cons only. There'd be a hell of a lot of good athletes on those teams. Stallworth’s story is just one in a number of cases we read about that involve pro athletes getting off way too easy. He should be behind bars. Anyone who did what he did belongs behind bars. But, as we all know, pro athletes are different from the rest of us. Maybe it’s because they have the money to hire the best attorney(s). Maybe who they are is more important than what they did. Whatever the reason, this case is one more example of the enormous chink in our justice system. There is no justice here, only a dead construction worker, a mourning family and another athlete who’s getting away with murder, or, in this case, manslaughter. What a shame.


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