After much debate and conjecture, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell weighed all the evidence, circumstantial and (presumably) visual, and handed down the punishment:
Ray Rice would be suspended for the first two games of the 2014 season for his part in a violent incident with his then-fiancée/now-wife Janay Palmer a few months ago in an Atlantic City casino, an incident that included some disturbing surveillance footage of Rice dragging an unconscious Palmer out of an elevator.
The Internet exploded, the media railed and Stephen A. Smith almost ended his career with a head-scratching, awful take on women's role in domestic violence.
Indeed, if any of this -- suspensions, reaction, relevance -- mattered for purposes of my NFL offseason Fantasy Crime League, the Ravens would have run away with the 2014 title.
But alas, those things don't count, and in a reversal of the 2013 Super Bowl, the San Francisco 49ers emerged "victorious."
And by "victorious" I mean that the Niners managed to accumulate more crime points during the offseason than any other team, largely based off a one-day tour de force from the offseason's Most Valuable Player. We here at FCL headquarters congratulate Coach Jim Harbaugh on his first championship as an NFL head coach.
Now let's hand out our individual awards for 2014....
MOST VALUABLE CRIMINAL (MVC): Chris Culliver, 49ers While ultimately the difference between a Fantasy Crime title and second place was the one-point misdemeanor that Aldon Smith committed by joking about having a bomb on his person in the airport, the Niners aren't even in position to win a title without Culliver's monster performance back in March. On one fateful morning, Culliver managed to squeeze in all of this:
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver had been released from jail early Friday evening following his arrest earlier in the day for felony hit-and-run and weapons possession, authorities said.
According to the San Jose police, they received a call at around 10:21 a.m. reporting that a bicyclist had been struck by a car that fled the scene at Tully near Senter Road in San Jose.
An eyewitness saw the accident and followed Culliver's vehicle until he cornered him in the area of Mekler Court. He attempted to block Culliver's vehicle from leaving.
Authorities said Culliver got out of his car, threatened the eyewitness with brass knuckles and then got back into his vehicle and fled. In the process, he struck the eyewitness' car. San Jose police arrived on the scene and took Culliver into custody without incident. A search of the vehicle uncovered the brass knuckles, authorities said.
He was arrested for felony hit and run for striking the bicyclist, reckless driving causing an injury, felony possession of brass knuckles and misdemeanor hit and run for the striking the vehicle.
The bicyclist was treated and released with minor injuries.
That's two felonies and a misdemeanor in two separate incidents, and the appearance of brass knuckles, which I didn't even know they made anymore! This is like that game a few years ago when Arian Foster had 100 yards rushing and 100 yards receiving against the Titans. Multi-threat shit, man.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Lorenzo Taliaferro, Ravens If you're going to be one of the top teams in any league -- actual football or fantasy crime -- you're going to need depth, which means you need contributions from your rookie class. The Ravens almost took home the trophy this season, and that was thanks in part to a stellar criminal night from their fourth-round pick, Lorenzo Taliaferro. By day, he is an aspiring running back out of Coastal Carolina. By night, well at least on one night, he was a one-man taxi cab window-wrecking crew:
WILLIAMSBURG - Lorenzo Taliaferro, who two weeks was drafted by the NFL's Baltimore Ravens, was arrested early Saturday morning and charged with breaking a window in a taxi cab.
According to Maj. Greg Riley of the Williamsburg Police Department, officer J.A. Wagner was on patrol in the 400 block of Richmond Road about 1:15 a.m. and saw the incident take place.
Wagner observed a group near the College Delly get into a cab. The taxi lurched forward, then the group got out. The officer said he heard yelling and cursing among the group.
The cab driver motioned to Wagner, and told that a member of the group whom he identified as Taliaferro, gripped the window and broke it.
According to police Taliaferro left the scene, but was located about a block away. He was charged with being drunk in public and destruction of property, both misdemeanors.
If only Taliaferro could have broken one more thing or jacked up one of his crimes to a felony, then we would be talking about the Ravens as champions of the FCL. That's the thing with rookies; it takes a year or two for them to focus on the little things. FRONT-OFFICE CRIMINAL OF THE YEAR: Jim Irsay, Indianapolis All things considered, it was a fairly light crime season overall and a very light crime season among front-office employees. (Where's the Denver personnel department when you need them?) In fact, the only "suit" to get in trouble was Irsay, who was infamously pulled over by Indianapolis police in a drug-induced haze with unprescribed drugs and a suitcase with $29,000 in cash. Thankfully, he appears to be just clean and sober enough to function as the Colts' owner once again, yet cuckoo enough to hand out $100 bills to fans at Colts camp to try to show the league "Hey look! I'm rich! I carry that kind of cash around ALL THE TIME...and I just hand it out to people! I'm a GOOD GUY...and I'M RICH...and did I mention I carry this kind of cash all the time???"
2014 FANTASY CRIME LEAGUE FINAL STANDINGS
1 point .. misdemeanor 3 points .. felony 10 points .. murder
49ERS .. 8 * 3/28/14: 49ers CB Chris Culliver is charged with felony hit and run, misdemeanor reckless driving and felony possession of brass knuckles. * 4/13/14: 49ers DE Aldon Smith is charged with MISDEMEANOR false report of a bomb threat.
RAVENS .. 7 * 2/14/14: Ravens RB Ray Rice is charged with third degree assault. * 2/21/14: Ravens WR Deonte Thompson is arrested for suspicion of possession of marijuana. * 3/9/14: Ravens OL Jah Reid is arrested on two counts of battery. * 5/26/14: Ravens RB Lorenzo Taliaferro is arrested for public drunkenness (misdemeanor) and destruction of property (misdemeanor). * 7/12/14: Ravens CB Jimmy Smith is arrested for misdemeanor disorderly conduct.
BILLS .. 6 * 5/7/14: Bills DT Marcell Dareus is arrested for felony possession of synthetic marijuana * 6/3/14: Bills DT Marcell Dareus is arrested for reckless endangerment in the second degree, a Class A misdemeanor, as well as reckless driving and participating in an illegal speed contest, both unclassified misdemeanors.
CHIEFS .. 4 * 6/9/14: Chiefs CB Sean Smith is cited for DUI and careless driving.
BEARS .. 3 * 4/21/14: Bears WR Josh Morgan is arrested for simple assault. * 6/20/14: Bears DE Cornelius Washington is arrested for speeding and driving on a suspended license.
BROWNS .. 3 * 7/4/14: Browns WR Josh Gordon is arrested for DUI in North Carolina.
RAMS .. 3 * 3/29/14: Rams CB Greg Reid is arrested for violating probation. * 7/20/14: Rams LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar is arrested for battery and disorderly conduct.
COLTS .. 2 * 3/16/14: Colts owner Jim Irsay is arrested for DUI and possession of a controlled substance (felony), downgraded to two OUI misdemeanor charges.
FALCONS .. 1 * 2/18/14: Falcons WR Roddy White is arrested for failing to appear in court.
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TITANS .. 1 * 3/20/14: Titans DE Adewale Ojomo is arrested for solicitation of prostitution.
BENGALS .. 1 * 3/31/14: Bengals FB Orson Charles is charged with wanton endangerment.
PANTHERS .. 1 * 5/13/14: Panthers DE Greg Hardy is arrested for misdemeanor domestic assault.