Rookie defensive lineman will go unpaid and will not be allowed to practice
By Gerry Dulac / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
After enduring several NFL-mandated suspensions the past three seasons, the Steelers punished one of their own when they suspended rookie nose tackle Alameda Ta’amu for two games without pay after he was charged with multiple felony and misdemeanor offenses in connection with a police chase on the South Side early Sunday morning.
Coach Mike Tomlin announced the suspension at his Tuesday news conference.
“We deemed his actions to be detrimental to our team,” Tomlin said. “It’s a disturbing incident, one we take very seriously in our community.”
Ta’amau, a fourth-round draft choice, will not be allowed to practice with the team or attend the facility during his suspension. He was placed on the Reserve/Suspended List and replaced on the 53-man roster by defensive end Corbin Bryant, who was on the team’s practice squad in 2011.
Ta’amu will be allowed to return the week leading up to the Nov. 4 game against the New York Giants. His absence should have no immediate impact on the team because he has not dressed for any of the first five games.
The action by the Steelers points up the league’s desire to have the involved team handle disciplinary measures for offending players. But NFL commissioner Roger Goodell can increase the penalty for the player and also fine or discipline the team if he thinks the original penalty is not severe enough.
The suspension is in accordance with NFL Players Association policy because the punishment has to be deemed “conduct detrimental.”
Tomlin said there will be no further punishment for Ta’amu, who is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Oct. 23.
“We thought it was very important to act quickly in addressing this,” Tomlin said.
Ta’amu faces felony counts of fleeing police and aggravated assault while driving drunk; and three counts of aggravated assault for nearly running down police officers with his vehicle. He is also charged with 10 misdemeanors, including resisting arrest and attempting escape.
Police said he crashed his 2006 Lincoln Navigator into several vehicles while fleeing on the South Side.
This was not the first DUI offense for Ta’amu. Court records show he also was charged with driving under the influence in October 2011 for an incident that occurred Dec. 12, 2009, when Ta’amu was playing for the University of Washington.
Ta’amu is not the first Steelers player to serve a suspension this season. Tight end Weslye Saunders was suspended four games by the NFL for violating the league’s banned substance policy.
Last season, outside linebacker James Harrison was suspended one game by the league for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Browns quarterback Colt McCoy.
Two years ago, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was suspended four games by the league because of an incident involving a female in Milledgeville, Ga., that violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy. Roethlisberger was never charged in the matter.
In October, 2008, former wide receiver Santonio Holmes was deactivated for a game against the New York Giants several days after he was charged on a misdemeanor count of marijuana possession. But Tomlin’s decision was never termed a suspension, only a move to lessen what he called a “distraction” to the team.
“We deemed his actions to be detrimental to our team. It’s a disturbing incident, one we take very seriously in our community.”
– Mike Tomlin