Berry has pushed the Lions over their limit on what should be tolerated in terms of player misconduct.
As an organization, the Lions need to take the most drastic action allowable under restrictions of the collective bargaining agreement.
If that means cutting ties with Berry, who took first team reps this offseason, so be it.
His arrest Saturday morning, in his hometown of Harrisburg, Pa., has further shredded the franchise’s public image. It already was in tatters because of five previous arrests of teammates this offseason, along with a punching incident in practice involving
An argument can be made that by cutting Berry, the Lions would be making an example of a player who had the bad timing of being the latest to get in trouble.
But there is a better and more valid argument: by doing nothing, the Lions become the example of what they don’t want to be – an undisciplined franchise rocking out of control.
Berry issued a statement Tuesday that said in part: “I promise to do everything in my power to make sure this never happens again. I understand these are just words and it will be my future actions that ultimately will speak for me.”
It was the kind of contrition expected from a player in trouble.
More revealing, and more alarming to Berry for his future, was the harsh overtone included in the Lions statement:
“This is not the standard of behavior we expect from any member of our organization. We have strongly and repeatedly emphasized the need to be accountable on and off the field, which makes this incident with Aaron all the more disappointing.
“We will have further comments regarding this situation when appropriate.”
One is hard-pressed to find a shred of support or understanding for Berry in the Lions’ statement.
“Haven’t you learned anything?” is the overtone.
The NFL already has suspended Leshoure for two games without pay and docked him an additional two game checks. Fairley’s case is going through the legal process. No league action is expected for Culbreath. Young’s punching incident was handled within the organization.
The timing of Berry’s arrest, coming less than two weeks after the end of mini-camp, and previous bad acts of his teammates makes his the worst.
The incidents involving those players and general player conduct was a constant topic at the Lions’ three-day mandatory mini-camp two weeks ago.
Schwartz answered every question head-on, conceding no excuses for bad behavior. The only allowance he gave was that all of the players were rookies in 2011, and young players can learn from mistakes.
After the last practice on June 14, wide receiver
“Obviously, we can’t watch everybody and call them every day,” Burleson said. “Hopefully, they’ve learned that in the offseason, the microscope is bigger.
“Make sure your bases are covered.”
The message obviously didn’t sink in for Berry. Or he didn’t care.
The collective bargaining agreement limits the punishment teams are allowed to hand down on players who get in trouble. In general terms, fines and suspensions are in the hands of the NFL for violations of the league’s policy on substance abuse and personal conduct.
However, the most drastic action – cutting a player – is in the hands of the team at any time.
And in Berry’s case, taking such drastic action is something that has to be given strong consideration by the Lions’ upper management – Owner William Clay Ford, President Tom Lewand, General Manager Martin Mayhew and Schwartz.
Frankly, with so much at stake and so many clear examples in his locker room of how not to behave, Berry had redlined the excuse meter.