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League should take draft picks from teams with a rash of off-field issues

The 2012 NFL Draft

NEW YORK, NY April 26, 2012 Logo at center stage of the NFL Draft on April 26, 2012 in New York, NY (Photo by Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

Jonathan Newton

When it comes to players who dispense illegal hits, fines are met with shrugs. The same can be said for teams that employ players who engage in illegal acts.

And so, as the Detroit Lions dust off a four-year-old formula for paying to the league office salary that otherwise would have been paid to suspended players, once the second player on the roster is suspended in a given year, we’ll dust off an argument we’ve previously made, too.

Just as a suspension is the only way to get a player’s attention, the only way to get a team’s attention is to take away draft picks.

If the Lions will be kicking 25 percent or 33 percent or 50 percent or more of the money that otherwise would have been paid to the suspended players during their suspensions, who cares? It’s part of the cost of doing business.

But if the Lions were to lose a seventh-round pick for a second suspension and if the stripped pick were to climb to a sixth-rounder after a third suspension, and so on, the Lions perhaps wouldn’t be quite so cavalier about topics like whether they’re drafting too many players who have a thing for marijuana.

The threat of taking draft picks would give teams an incentive both to shy away from players with a history of off-field trouble -- and to do whatever reasonably can be done to help current players avoid behavior that would result in suspensions.

It’s yet another idea that makes far too much sense to ever be adopted. But that won’t stop us from mentioning it from time to time, especially if more and more members of the Lions continue to get arrested this year.