NFL fans want their team’s players to be good guys.
They want their players to be happy.
Most of all, they want their players to play.
Which is why, when news broke that Bills defensive tackle Ed Oliver was arrested Saturday night in Houston, the biggest question on the mind of BillsMafia was whether Oliver would get suspended.
The future on that subject is not bright. Though, the immediate future may have a ray of light.
The NFL’s new collective bargaining agreement with the players changed the rules on the substance abuse policy. When it comes to DUI offenses like Oliver’s, the punishment was increased from a two-game to a three-game suspension for the first offense.
At the moment, Oliver is only charged with driving while intoxicated. What if he pleads the charge down to something lesser? It may not matter.
Last season, Broncos defensive back Kareem Jackson was charged with DUI in September. His charges ended up being dismissed and Jackson still served a two-game suspension to close out 2019.
On top of the DWI, Oliver has also been charged with unlawfully carrying a weapon. This one is a bit curious. Under Texas law, carrying a weapon while committing a criminal act is also considered a crime. In other words, it appears Oliver was fine carrying a gun until he committed a separate crime while carrying it.
Regardless, the secondary charge could be considered a violation of the NFL’s personal conduct policy. It explicitly mentions “illegal possession of a gun” as something that can get a player in trouble. It’s possible Oliver could receive additional suspension for an additional infraction.
Another change to the CBA could help Oliver here. Commissioner Roger Goodell used to be judge and jury on personal conduct infractions. The new CBA stipulates that a “neutral decision maker” will hand out suspensions for policy violations. The commissioner will still hear all appeals, but the initial punishment will not be the league pushing its own policy.
Any suspension does not necessarily have to be for the 2020 season.
In June of 2018, Jets tight end Chris Herndon was arrested for a DWI before his rookie season. He played all 16 games in 2018 and then pled guilty in January of 2019. He received a four game suspension the following summer and served it for the first quarter of the 2019 season, almost 15 months after he was arrested.
Bills fans should be bracing not to see Oliver for a few games. It’s likely just a matter of which games and how many.