Abraham needs to learn from latest incident

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Arizona Cardinals linebacker John Abraham said he learned a lesson.

“I’m not going through that stuff again,” Abraham told The Arizona Republic last August, referring to his Oct. 1, 2003, arrest on charges of driving while intoxicated. “It’s a bigger headache than it’s worth. I got mine one time, and one time is enough. It’s brought more pain than it did anything else. That one night of partying wasn’t worth all the things I had to go through.”

Abraham crashed his Hummer into in a light pole and fire hydrant 11 years ago on Long Island, New York. He pleaded guilty to DWI and avoided jail time. According to an ESPN The Magazine story about Abraham in 2007, he quit drinking a year after the accident.

Sometime between then and June 29, he started again. Abraham was arrested on June 29 in suburban Atlanta on a charge of DUI, according to jail records. He was released five hours later after posting bail. After Abraham missed the Cardinals’ conditioning test Friday, coach Bruce Arians said he was excused for personal matters.

There’s a lot we don’t know, such as whether Abraham’s absence from camp is related to his arrest. We also don’t know the particulars of that Sunday afternoon in Georgia.

Abraham has yet to report to training camp. “He’ll be here whenever it’s cleared up,” Arians said Friday. “It’s nothing.”

It's not nothing. If Abraham is found guilty of DUI, he could be punished by the NFL under its personal conduct policy. It would be his second alcohol-related offense; the first came after the Hummer crash in New York. Depending on how Roger Goodell wants to view Abraham’s first offense, he could hand down a significant penalty. And the Cardinals know they can’t afford to lose another star linebacker.

Then there’s the question of what the team will do. When a rookie was charged with DUI last season, he was promptly cut, although the team said publicly that he was released because it wanted to upgrade the position.

Another Pro Bowl linebacker in trouble with the law and the NFL, Daryl Washington, remains a Cardinal. Salary-cap implications are in play with Washington, but Arizona wasn’t swift to come down with a hammer.

Maybe the Cardinals are letting Abraham sort things out and get a handle on what to do next.

“I’m 35 years old, I ain’t going to lie,” he told the Republic last training camp. “Yeah, I still drink. I still go out and have a good time. I don’t do drugs at all, but I won’t say I don’t drink.

“I’m not doing it now -- not during camp -- but when friends come to town, I’ll go out. It’s a controlled habit. It’s not that I have a problem. I know guys who have a problem. My dad was an alcoholic, and I know alcoholics.”

Hopefully, Abraham will learn from his latest arrest and make a change.