Marshall gets three-game suspension for violating conduct policy

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos will start the season without wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who was suspended by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for three games for violating the league's personal conduct policy.

Marshall was summoned to Goodell's New York offices on July 18 to explain a series of off-the-field misdeeds over the past year, most notably his March 6 arrest on a domestic violence warrant filed by his former girlfriend in Atlanta.

Marshall, who is due in court next month for a drunken driving trial, can have his suspension reduced to two games if he undergoes counseling and abides by other conditions, which the NFL did not specify.

"There's no basis for discipline," Marshall's lawyer, Harvey Steinberg, argued during an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday night. "Mr. Marshall has not been convicted nor charged with a crime."

The league's personal conduct policy that Goodell strengthened last year states: "It's not enough to simply avoid being found guilty of a crime. Instead, as an employee of the NFL or a member club, you are held to a higher standard. Persons who fail to live up to this standard are guilty of conduct detrimental and subject to discipline, even where the conduct itself does not result in conviction of a crime."

Marshall's suspension is much shorter than those given Tank Johnson, Pacman Jones and Michael Vick under Goodell's watch.

Marshall will appeal the suspension, Steinberg said while questioning whether that would be an act of futility: "I get to appeal to the guy who imposed the discipline," Steinberg said.

Steinberg was angry that he and Marshall learned of the commissioner's decision via a press release.

Steinberg said he also had no idea what conditions Marshall would have to meet aside from counseling to have the suspension reduced by a game.

"I am assuming the NFL will send out another press release to tell us," Steinberg said.

He said Marshall had been hoping for a simple warning and was disappointed to get slapped with a suspension.

"He's having one of his best training camps," Steinberg said. "I told him we would appeal it, and he's anxious to have some modicum of due process."

If the suspension stands, Marshall will miss the Broncos' season opener at Oakland on Sept. 8 and the team's home opener against San Diego the following week. They face New Orleans at home in Week 3.

The ruling came down after the Broncos were finished with both of their practices and a spokesman said coach Mike Shanahan wouldn't address the matter until his scheduled Wednesday morning news conference.

The Broncos had been hoping to learn sooner about Marshall's status but realized the commissioner was bogged down with the Brett Favre saga.

Marshall emerged as quarterback Jay Cutler's primary target during a breakout 2007 season, catching 102 passes for 1,325 yards, but he's made news on and off the field since. In March he needed surgery on his right arm after he fell into a television set, he said, while horsing around with his brother.

Despite missing most of the team's offseason workouts as a result, Marshall has put aside any worries about his health or the specter of a suspension to consistently shine at practice.

Earlier in the week, teammates said they were hoping Marshall would only get a warning.

"He doesn't deserve any of that because he is not a bad guy," cornerback Dre' Bly said. "You hear stuff about what the other guys are doing. He is out here working hard, and he is ready to go."

Marshall's pending DUI trial could not have factored into the commissioner's ruling because it didn't fall under the personal conduct policy that would allow for suspension.