Rams, NFL will wait on legal system in Little case

Thursday, April 29, 2004

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Rams and the National Football League will not consider disciplinary action against Pro Bowl defensive end Leonard Little until his legal problems are resolved in court, Rams coach Mike Martz said Wednesday.

Little, who pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in a 1998 drunk-driving accident that killed a St. Louis woman, was arrested early Saturday in Ladue, Mo., on suspicion of drunk driving. He was charged Monday as a persistent offender with felony driving while intoxicated and speeding, and freed on $7,500 bond.

The Rams and the NFL do not condone drinking and driving "under any circumstances," Martz said in a faxed statement. But because he is innocent until proven guilty, Little will for now continue to participate in team events, Martz said.

"I know this is a very emotional time for all of us," Martz said. "The portrayal of Leonard as being insensitive and unremorseful has not been my observation, or that of our coaches and players."

Little, 29, was arrested shortly before 4 a.m. Saturday for reportedly traveling 78 mph in a 55-mph zone on Interstate 64. A probable cause statement filed by police said Little had bloodshot and watery eyes, smelled of alcohol and failed three roadside sobriety tests.

The statement said Little admitted to drinking alcoholic beverages.

Little was suspended without pay for the first half of the 1999 season after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the 1998 accident that killed Susan Gutweiler. In that case, Little's blood alcohol level was nearly twice the legal limit.

Little was sentenced to 90 days in jail, 1,000 hours of community service and four years of probation, which was completed in 2002.

A bond hearing in the latest case is May 18. A grand jury likely will review Little's case within the next two months.

Little, who has spent his entire six-year career with the Rams, went to his first Pro Bowl after last season. He was fifth in the NFL with 12 1/2 sacks despite missing a month with a torn pectoral muscle. He has 39 sacks the last three years, third-highest over that span.

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