San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and general manager Trent Baalke recently declined to say whether the team planned to punish linebacker Ahmad Brooks for allegedly striking teammate Lamar Divens over the head with a bottle last month.
Players will be watching the situation closely, you can bet, and at least one of them expects some form of discipline.
We still have not heard from Brooks on the matter. Off-field matters tend to be personal, but this one differed from most because it involved one teammate attacking another.
Precedent is scarce, but when Carolina Panthers receiver Steve Smith attacked practice-squad player Anthony Bright during a team study session in 2002, the Panthers suspended Smith for one game. That situation appeared more serious. Bright suffered a broken nose and required a hospital stay, whereas Divens apparently did not suffer a significant injury. Also, Smith's attack against Bright took place on the job at team headquarters, another significant difference.
In 2005, former Oakland Raiders linebacker Bill Romanowski settled out of court with former teammate Marcus Williams, who had sued Romanowski for breaking his eye socket during a 2003 practice. Again, that situation was far more serious than what happened involving Brooks and Divens.
Brooks will not face charges in the case, authorities said. The NFL could act against Brooks anyway, but teams have been increasingly taking the lead on such matters.