Lisa Tkach/The Mirror

I am an Atlanta Falcons fan. I know. I know it’s weird, but I have my reasons.

That being said, I was thrilled to see that they were going to be playing the Monday Night Football game last Monday, and against Peyton Manning and Denver nonetheless.

I was even more excited when they were able to pull out a 27-21 win over the Broncos. And apparently, Falcons running back Michael Turner was pretty excited as well.

At about 5 a.m. on that Tuesday morning, Turner was pulled over by police for driving 97 mph, when the speed limit was 65-mph. Turner was arrested and charged with a DUI.

According to league policy, because it was Turner’s first offense, so the decision of whether to fine or suspend Turner is in the hands of Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL.

At the start of the Falcons game against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday afternoon, Michael Turner was lined up to start as running back.

Turner’s start, is sending the completely wrong message to players across the league, fans watching the games, and players looking up to NFL players as role models.

I know it’s Turners first offense, but he could have legitimately hurt someone, while going 30 over the speed limit. Maybe then he would have gotten a fine?

In 2009, Donte Stallworth of the Cleveland Browns was in an accident in which he struck and killed a pedestrian while driving under the influence. Stallworth pleaded guilty to manslaughter, spent 30 days in jail, and was suspended for the entirety of the 2009 season without pay.

Sure, Turner’s offense wasn’t nearly on the same level as Stallworth’s, but it is not an offense that should allow him to get away clean, at least as far as the NFL is concerned.

It’s certainly sending a wrong message to kids everywhere, that there aren’t any severe consequences for driving while drunk. Or on a deeper level, perhaps there aren’t consequences for your actions, if you’re a professional athlete.

If Goodell isn’t going to enact a formal punishment for Turners transgressions, then it should have been down to Falcons Head Coach, Mike Smith to punish Turner from within the organization, by putting him on the bench.

Besides, it’s not like he’s doing much for the Falcons anyway. He’s only rushed for 154 yards in his first three games of the season. Surely quarterback, Matt Ryan and his plentiful options in the wide receiver and tight end positions, can handle the game well by themselves.

There is no reason for Turner to have started in the Falcons game this Sunday. The message his start sent to the country has negative effects that far outweigh anything accomplished on the field.

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