CLEVELAND – Suspended Browns wide receiver Donte Stallworth feels he has done “irreparable harm” to the family of the man he killed while driving drunk and said he is ready to accept whatever ruling NFL commissioner Roger Goodell makes on his future.
Stallworth, suspended indefinitely by the league for killing Mario Reyes while driving drunk in Miami, met with Goodell in New York on Wednesday about a possible reinstatement.
Stallworth was recently released from jail after serving 24 days for the DUI conviction.
In a public statement released Thursday, Stallworth apologized for his actions and vowed to conduct himself “in a manner that more accurately reflects who I am and meets the high standard expected of all NFL players.”
“I recognize that there is a difference between the legal standard in my criminal case and the standard to which NFL players are held,” Stallworth said. “It is clear that I exercised poor judgment and caused irreparable harm to Mario Reyes, his family, the NFL, its owners, coaches, employees and to my fellow players.”
Stallworth thanked Goodell for the opportunity to express his remorse and said he will accept whatever punishment Goodell hands down.
“Whatever he ultimately decides is the appropriate discipline, I will accept knowing that I have profoundly affected the NFL and its relationship with the fans of our game,” Stallworth said. “I jeopardized the honour and privilege that I have been given to be an NFL player and to play for our fans. I am truly sorry.”
The league has given no indication when Goodell will rule on Stallworth, who struck and killed Reyes on March 14, just a few hours after drinking at a Miami Beach club.
Stallworth had a blood-alcohol level of .126, above Florida’s .08 legal limit.
At his meeting with Goodell, the commissioner was shown a tape of the accident recorded by a camera on a Florida Power & Light utility pole. The tape, which was described but not shown in court, supports Stallworth’s statements that the victim darted into traffic and was not in a crosswalk when he was struck.
The presiding judge in the case issued an order allowing Stallworth’s lawyers to take the tape – which has not been made public – from the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office to New York for the Goodell meeting, said state attorney’s spokeswoman Terry Chavez. The tape has been returned to the office.
Prosecutors have previously said that one factor in reaching a plea deal with Stallworth was that the tape could raise some doubts for a jury about how much Reyes was at fault in the crash, despite Stallworth’s blood-alcohol level.
The Browns have deferred all questions about Stallworth to the league. Coach Eric Mangini said Wednesday the team will address Stallworth’s situation after Goodell makes his decision.
Browns linebacker D’Qwell Jackson offered his sympathy to everyone involved in the tragedy.
“It’s a tough situation,” Jackson said after practice on Thursday. “I hope the best for both sides. Donte is a friend of mine. It’s something he has to deal with. I haven’t spoken to him, but I wish him the best and I wish the best for the Reyes family for their loss. It’s not a good ending to anything. I pray for them both.”
Stallworth reached an undisclosed financial settlement with Reyes’ family. Besides his time in jail, his sentence included two years of house arrest, probation and other restrictions.
AP Legal Affairs Writer Curt Anderson in Miami contributed to this report.