- The Washington Times - Friday, September 8, 2000

The NFL frowns on unsportsmanlike conduct, so Redskins safety Mark Carrier is sitting out Sunday's game against the Lions.
Unsportsmanlike conduct apparently is judged on a sliding scale in the NFL.
Ray Lewis did not miss a game with the Ravens, despite being in the vicinity of two killings in Atlanta.
Lewis lied to investigators and then played the victim after he agreed to be guilty of obstruction of justice.
Lewis ended up with a $250,000 fine and an admonishment from commissioner Paul Tagliabue.
Carrier committed his purported misdeed on the playing field and was not outside a nightclub in the wee hours of the morning.
Carrier played the ball, as a safety is supposed to do, and hit tight end Wesley Walls with what appeared to be a clean, solid lick.
No yellow flag was thrown. No scrum among the players resulted. It was, by football's standards, a relatively routine play. Collisions happen, as do concussions.
The NFL is motivated by the latter. Troy Aikman is the NFL's punch-drunk player of the week. They keep track of his passing statistics and concussions in Dallas. They also raise the comparison to Steve Young, unflattering though it may be.
As much as the NFL would like to try, it cannot remove the mayhem from the game unless it sticks flags around the waistlines of the quarterbacks, running backs and receivers.
Carrier is stuck between the mayhem and the desire to curb the most frightening aspects of it.
It is too bad Carrier cannot hire a team of lawyers to plead guilty to a lesser charge.
As you know, if it doesn't fit, you must acquit, and in this case, the punishment does not fit the hit.
NFL players, it seems, are allowed to hit women harder than each other. They are allowed to be nitwits when they are off the field. They are professional athletes. They are special.
In this upside-down environment, two dead guys in Atlanta merit a fine, while one woozy guy in the place formerly known as Raljon merits a one-game suspension.
Lewis only tried to discourage police investigators from learning the circumstances that resulted in two deaths.
People usually feel compelled to cooperate around death unless they have something to hide or fear. The dead would have wanted it that way, and certainly the two dead guys in Atlanta would have wanted it that way.
But Lewis demonstrated no character, no strength, no capacity to see beyond his itty-bitty self.
So Lewis is fined and warned not to let whatever it was happen again, and the Ravens are 1-0, and all is well in Baltimore.
Hopefully, Lewis will be able to squeeze the fine out of his $15 million in base salary through 2003.
NFL players like to learn from their mistakes, and Lewis has learned that if there are two dead guys in your corner of the world, it probably is wise to cooperate with authorities. It is not just the right thing to do. It is the smart thing.
Carrier is learning from his mistakes, too, mostly that it is preferable to be up on this or that legal charge than it is to carry out your job with conviction.
The NFL is obsessed with "upon further review, and "upon further review" Carrier is a serial cheap-shot artist who must be shown the error of his ways.
The NFL broke down the film this week and studied Carrier's body language frame by frame. See, right there, he left his feet to deliver the helmet-to-helmet blow that separated Walls from the ball.
He should have known better. He should have turned in mid-air after receiving clearance from the NFL's air-traffic controllers in New York and making certain that everyone's seats and tray tables were in their upright positions.
Instead, carelessly, he leveled Walls, and now he has a game to think about it, if not learn from his mistakes.
The Redskins are starting to make a habit of this after Tre Johnson served his one-game suspension last Sunday.
At least Johnson, however inadvertent, struck an official.
Carrier merely was meeting the dictates of his job.

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