Peters arrest a test for Eagles coach Kelly

Eagles tackle Jason Peters was arrested and charged with drag-racing and resisting an officer in Louisiana Wednesday. AP
Eagles tackle Jason Peters was arrested and charged with drag-racing and resisting an officer in Louisiana Wednesday. AP
Posted: June 17, 2013

Chip Kelly's message to his players before they started the NFL's answer to summer vacation was to "be professional" about their work during the intermission between minicamp and training camp.

It's fair to assume the directive extends to the players' conduct, too. It was Kelly who said earlier this offseason, "If I can't trust them when they leave this building then we probably brought the wrong guys in here."

No team is ever excited to hear about a Pro Bowl left tackle racing away from the police in excess of 100 m.p.h. at 4:45 a.m. But that was what the Eagles faced when Jason Peters was arrested in Monroe, La., for drag-racing and resisting an officer by flight early Wednesday morning. It was Peters' second arrest in the last three seasons. (The 2011 arrest for disturbing the peace came after he played loud music in his car.)

In a statement through a team spokesman, the Eagles acknowledged they're aware of the report and have spoken to Peters, but declined additional comment because it's a legal matter.

Unless the league gets involved, Peters' arrest likely will not affect his status this season. And the reality is it's not unprecedented for NFL players to get in trouble this time of year.

Between June 1 and Aug. 1 last year, 15 NFL players were arrested. During that same period in 2011, 12 players were arrested. That's less than 1 percent of the 2,880 players on NFL rosters at this time of year, but every incident gains attention during the slowest period of the league calendar.

It will be interesting to see what, if anything, Kelly does in this case or in future situations. Kelly's four years as coach at Oregon included high-profile legal and disciplinary issues, and he was notably heavy-handed in his response.

In 2010, Kelly suspended starting quarterback Jeremiah Masoli for the season after Masoli pleaded guilty to a second-degree burglary charge for stealing two laptops and a guitar from a fraternity house. One year later, he suspended all-American cornerback Cliff Harris indefinitely after Harris drove 118 m.p.h. on a suspended license in a rental car.

Kelly also issued a season-long suspension to linebacker Kiko Alonso in 2010, and kept running back LaMichael James out of one game in 2010. Both encountered legal problems.

The most-publicized suspension Kelly issued came when running back LeGarrette Blount punched a Boise State player after Kelly's first game as head coach. Kelly suspended Blount for the season before reducing the penalty, but the heavy punishment was a major decision from a rookie coach.

College football has no collective bargaining agreement or players' union, so an NFL coach does not have the kind of authority over players that a college coach does. But Kelly will determine who's on the team and who's starting, and it's reasonable to wonder what his approach will be with Peters or any other player who finds headlines for the wrong reasons.

The other factor to consider is that Kelly looks to afford his players considerable leeway. He emphasizes efficiency and is expected to cut the fat out of a typical in-season day, meaning players will not be mandated to linger at the NovaCare Complex under his supervision. That also requires trusting his players away from the facility.

History suggests Peters will not be the last player to get in trouble, and he won't be the only high-profile player to err. What remains to be seen is what Kelly will do in these instances with the Eagles, and how that compares to his approach at Oregon.


Contact Zach Berman at zberman@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @ZBerm.

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