As if all the injuries on defense weren’t enough for the Buffalo Bills, now they have to contend with Marcell Dareus’ four-game suspension.
The team’s statement was brief.
We are very disappointed Marcell chose to put himself first, before his teammates, coaches and the rest of the organization through his recent actions. From ownership down we have made it clear his behavior is unacceptable. We will continue to take the necessary steps to work with him in order that he adheres to the policies set forth by our league. As an organization, we will move forward with our preparations for the start of the 2016 NFL season in Baltimore on September 11.
A bit harsh, but more than fair and very, very necessary because Dareus did choose to put himself first and it will cost the team. That’s something the Bills—or any team—cannot abide.
More and more it seems as if we are seeing players doing things they know they shouldn’t and costing their teams their services on the field. The Cowboys have Randy Gregory, Rolando McClain and DeMarcus Lawrence suspended (all for substance abuse or PEDs), Josh Gordon is finally coming back to the Browns (after serving four games on top of the year he has been absent), the Jets will not have Sheldon Richardson for a game, the Steelers are without Martavis Bryant and possibly Le’Veon Bell.
Normally, teams seem to come out with vague “we are disappointed this happened” statements, but rarely do they hold their player’s feet to the fire. The result is a spate of repeat offenders like Gordon or everyone the Cowboys has lost, guys who don’t just screw up once, but multiple times.
We are very disappointed Marcell chose to put himself first, before his teammates, coaches and the rest of the organization through his recent actions.
We don’t hear things like that often, certainly not often enough. It’s the truth though, and even players who are big-name and big-money guys like Dareus or Bell need to hear it.
Because it’s not just about the money lost—the Bills have no language in Dareus’ contract to get back any money due to suspension. It’s about putting your team in a position that’s harder than it needs to be.
It’s not Dareus’ fault that rookies Reggie Ragland and Shaq Lawson are hurt, but it is his fault that he added to that problem. It is his fault that, having signed a seven-year, $103.2 million ($60 million guaranteed) that Dareus isn’t living up to his contract, that he couldn’t even be bothered to show up for a test (which is the same as failing one according to NFL doctrine).
It is his fault that when his team needs him most—with Ragland and Lawson and IK Enemkpali hurt, two of them done for the season—he’s not there because of something he had control of.
While we can argue about whether a player should be or could be a role model to those outside the game, what we can’t argue is that he has a responsibility to his teammates and his franchise. Not unending and complete loyalty—we know that doesn’t get reciprocated anyway—but to show up and do what he’s paid to.
Dareus won’t be doing that for the first month of the season. Neither will many of the players mentioned above. They will let their teams down when their teams need them.
Is the Bills statement a bit blunt, a little harsh? Yes. That’s what the NFL needs right now, to send a message to its players that they have a job to do and it does nobody any good when they are so reckless off the field that they are kept off it.