Yesterday, Nick Fairley of the Detroit Lions failed to appear at a hearing for a 2012 DUI and reckless driving case. Fairley was sentenced to a six-month suspended jail term and given one year of probation, but the most worrisome part was that he failed to appear at the hearing despite being encouraged to do so. This behavior still makes me believe that Fairley’s character concerns are still in question, even after three seasons in the NFL.
Drafted No. 13 overall in the 2011 NFL Draft by Detroit, Fairley had a slow start to his career, but had his best season to date in 2013, recording six sacks and finishing with a career-high 35 tackles. Despite all of this, Fairley’s character is one of a host of reasons why the Lions chose not to extend him this offseason as his rookie contract expires next spring.
Teamed with another polarizing defensive tackle in Ndamukong Suh, the Lions have one of the best defensive tackle combinations in the NFL, but Fairley’s commitment to the game has been put into question and his football intelligence also has to be questioned. In 2013, Fairley led all Lions defenders with nine penalties, including two unnecessary roughness calls and two roughing the passer calls. Fairley also had nine penalties called against him in 2012, making him one of the most penalized players in the NFL the past two seasons.
The fact that Fairley was sentenced means that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell could certainly give Fairley some form of discipline, even a suspension. Fairley is playing now just for the rest of his Lions career this season, but he is also auditioning for other teams that want to take a look at him next offseason; but if Fairley can’t control his behavior both on and off the field, his first contract could very well be his last.