While the Santa Clara County District Attorney's office remains unclear on how to pursue a case against Ahmad Brooks, the 49ers linebacker could be disciplined by the league even if the case is dropped by prosecutors.
In 2007 the NFL expanded its personal conduct policy, stating that NFL employees are held to a higher standard and that the absence of criminal charges or being found not guilty does not allow someone to avoid league discipline, which can include fines, suspension or banishment from the league. The district attorney's office is investigating a June 8 incident in which Brooks allegedly struck teammate Lamar Divens three times with a beer bottle and punched him in the head. Brooks also allegedly threatened to retrieve a gun, according to witness accounts found in court records.
Here's the relevant passages from the NFL's Personal Conduct Policy:
* The specifics of the disciplinary response will be based on the nature of the
incident, the actual or threatened risk to the participant and others, any prior or additional
misconduct (whether or not criminal charges were filed), and other relevant factors.
* Unless the available facts clearly indicate egregious circumstances, significant bodily harm or
risk to third parties, or an immediate and substantial risk to the integrity and reputation of the
NFL, a first offense generally will not result in discipline until there has been a disposition of the
proceeding (or until the investigation is complete in the case of noncriminal misconduct).
* With respect to repeat offenders, the Commissioner may impose discipline on an enhanced
and/or expedited basis. In such cases, the timing and nature of the discipline will be determined
by the Commissioner based on several factors including but not limited to: the severity of the
initial charge and later charge; the facts underlying the later charge; the length of time between
the initial offense and later charge; and the player or employee's compliance with counseling
and other programs. Following a full investigation and/or resolution of the proceedings, the
Commissioner will review the matter and make any appropriate adjustments.
Brooks, 29, has at least one prior incident that would fall under the personal conduct policy, a 2008 arrest in which he was accused of punching a woman in the eye in Kentucky. He was charged with fourth-degree assault, a misdemeanor that carries up to a year in prison. Later that year, Brooks said the case had been expunged, and the Boone County (Ky) District Court has no record of it. The league also reserves the right to consider behavior that occurred before a player joined the NFL. Brooks had frequent run-ins at the University of Virginia and eventually was dismissed from the team.
Meanwhile, the timing of the incident also may be a concern for Brooks. There is added scrutiny on player conduct in the wake of Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez's arrest in the slaying of Odin Lloyd, whose body was found near Hernandez's home in Massachusetts. Hernandez also is being investigated in relation to double murder that occurred in July 2012 in Boston.
-- Matt Barrows