General NewsOff-The-Field Issues

2014 Minnesota Vikings: Jerome Simpson to be Suspended 3 Games, Pending Ongoing Appeal

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Per Matt Vensel of the Star Tribune and Ben Goessling of the Pioneer Press, Jerome Simpson is appealing what is right now a three-game suspension from the NFL.

If he is unsuccessful, the suspension will presumably remain at three games (I can’t imagine it increasing). If he is successful, I would imagine he knocks it down to two games and no less. This is good news, as people were reasonably expecting between a 6-8 game suspension because of Jerome Simpson’s history—though a DUI falls under perhaps a different policy umbrella than the initial suspension for pot, which may be why the suspension is low.

Jerome Simpson was the Vikings leading receiver for most of the year, until Greg Jennings saw more targets near the end and outpaced him. He ended with 726 yards, 48 receptions and one touchdown. His yards per route run was nearly identical to Greg Jennings’ 1.62 at 1.61, which was the same as Cordarrelle Patterson’s, per Pro Football Focus. They ranked 44th and 45th, respectively.

Right now, he looks to be the fourth receiver on the depth chart, given training camp observations and the preseason.

UPDATE: Per Ben Goessling of ESPN, Simpson’s lawyer is arguing that the offense should not trigger the repeat offender clause of the CBA, because 1) this is Simpson’s first alcohol-related offense ava that his previous run-in with the NFL was related to marijuana and 2) because Simpson was never convicted of a DUI, but of careless driving and refusal to submit to a test, which would mean that the NFL’s substance-abuse policy didn’t apply (making it not a repeat offense)–

Simpson’s attorney, David Valentini, said he was one of two lawyers representing the receiver at the hearing, in which the attorneys argued Simpson should not face a suspension for his arrest Nov. 9 in Minneapolis. Simpson later pleaded guilty to careless driving and refusing to submit to a chemical test, and he completed his community service requirement for the offense this spring.

Valentini said the league had regarded Simpson as a repeat offender of its substance abuse policy, even though the incident was his first alcohol-related offense. He was suspended for the first three games of the 2012 season after he pled guilty to mailing two pounds of marijuana to his house in Kentucky while he was playing for the Cincinnati Bengals. Simpson served 15 days in jail for that offense and was placed on three years’ probation. Following his drunken-driving arrest, Simpson’s probation was transferred from Kentucky to Minnesota.

There’s some more interesting details from Brian Murphy of the Pioneer Press:

David Valentini, his Minneapolis criminal defense lawyer, appeared before hearing officer Harold Henderson. He maintains the NFL should not punish Simpson because his client ultimately was convicted of misdemeanor charges of careless driving and refusing to submit to a chemical test.

“We made our case and believe Jerome should not be suspended under the totality of the evidence,” Valentini said. “Our argument was that if he had taken the test he would have passed it.”

Simpson pleaded guilty Jan. 2 to careless driving and refusing to submit a chemical test following a plea deal with the Minneapolis attorney. Prosecutors agreed to dismiss the DUI count and a Hennepin County judge sentenced him to two years’ probation.

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  1. “if he had taken the test he would have passed it” What?? Then he should have taken the test and he wouldn’t be in such a pickle!

  2. As I see it, the NFL has no basis to suspend Simpson for any games. Call it good lawyering but the adjudicated court ruling was that misdemeanor offenses happened that did not include any language relating to substance abuse. If the NFL rules are tied to actual legal judgments, the NFL would have no basis on which to suspend Simpson. I have little doubt that he beat the wrap, but I also have little doubt that the Minnesota court knew the score when arriving at its ruling.

    I don’t know the actual criteria the NFL uses, but its hard to see on what grounds they could suspend him. The legal standard really is “innocent until proven guilty.” He was not found guilty of a substance abuse. He pleaded out.