Ahmad Brooks will not face criminal charges in relation to an altercation with teammate Lamar Divens on June 8, but that doesn't necessarily mean he will escape punishment altogether. The NFL today confirmed to The Bee that Brooks' case will be reviewed under its conduct policy, which gives Commissioner Roger Goodell the authority to dispense discipline.
That policy, sharpened in 2007, holds NFL employees to a higher standard than used by the criminal justice system. It states that the absence of criminal charges or a conviction does not allow someone to avoid league discipline, which can include fines, suspension or banishment from the league. The policy takes into account previous offenses.
In 2008, when Brooks was with the Bengals, he was arrested and 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.
On Thursday, CBS Sports' Mike Freeman wrote a story noting that Goodell has been far more quiet this offseason than he was during a similarly ugly stretch for the NFL in 2007 when the Michael Vick dog-fighting scandal and other unsavory stories dominated the headlines. Freeman writes that's likely because the teams are acting quickly and imposing their own discipline.
Indeed, the Patriots released tight end Aaron Hernandez immediately after his June arrest in relation to the murder of Odin Lloyd. Meanwhile, the Broncos quickly punished two front-office executives this month after they were charged with driving drunk.
Will the 49ers act on Brooks, the team's starter at left outside linebacker? On Thursday, the team issued a statement: "The 49ers organization is aware that the District Attorney of Santa Clara County has closed this matter. As an organization, we look forward to moving on from this situation and will have no further comment."
The Santa Clara County District Attorney on Thursday decided not to pursue charges against Brooks, who initially had been accused by Divens of beating Divens three times across the head with a beer bottle and then threatening to retrieve a gun. The district attorney concluded that the case was too muddled - including by Divens' demands of $1 million from Brooks - to obtain a conviction and dropped the case.
-- Matt Barrows