Football / Sports

Detroit Lions' Nick Fairley sentenced, but his NFL punishment unknown

Detroit Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley intends to appeal the suspended sentence he received Thursday for a 2012 DUI charge, his attorney said Friday. But it's unclear whether he's still subject to NFL discipline.

"I think they've already met, and they were waiting for the outcome," Fairley's attorney, Sid Harrell, told the Free Press. "It's on appeal. I should hope it would not have any implications. They've called me about it, but I think the agent met with them about a year and a half ago, right after it happened, so I think the commissioner's already met with everybody, and since that time, he's been fine."

Fairley met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in the summer of 2012, about a month after he was arrested for the second time in what was a troubling off-season for the team.

He was placed in the NFL's drug program and subjected to additional tests but never publicly fined nor suspended.

Neither the league nor Fairley's agent responded to questions today about whether the fourth-year pro still could face further discipline.

Fairley was cited for possession of marijuana in April 2012, after Mobile police said they found two partially smoked joints in the ashtray of his Cadillac Escalade. He then was arrested on Memorial Day weekend that year for driving under the influence of alcohol and going 100 mph.

The marijuana charge against Fairley was dismissed after he passed a drug test, and that's part of the reason the DUI charge continues to linger.

Harrell is pushing for the courts to place Fairley in a DUI-diversion program for first-time offenders that, once completed, would expunge the charge from his record. Prosecutors have argued that Fairley's marijuana arrest makes him ineligible for the program, and the case has been tangled up in legal filings for more than two years.

On Thursday, a district court judge sentenced Fairley to a six-month suspended sentence and one year of probation. Fairley did not attend the hearing -- he practiced with the Lions -- and Harrell said he'll file an appeal in the next 14 days.

"We'll appeal it, and it'll go to circuit court," Harrell said. "We may get another court date in a couple months, but he's continuing to do well; that's all that matters. This case, it could have a simple ending, but the DA's kind of dug their heels in. I understand it. It's part of it, and I have no political future but it's been fun doing all this. It's some interesting issues. Like I said, a judge 36 years said he's never seen this before, but he understands. I'm just doing what I got to do. You can't lay down."

Fairley, entering his fourth NFL season, slimmed down this off-season, after the Lions challenged him to lose weight and play more consistently.

He's listed at 308 pounds, about 15 fewer than he played at last year, and said he has seen noticeable improvements in his conditioning and stamina since undergoing sleep apnea surgery in May.

Lions general manager Martin Mayhew praised Fairley this week.

"Nick's had a good off-season thus far," Mayhew said. "You guys may have forgotten: He had an injury at the end of 2012. It took him awhile to get over that, which kind of set him back a little bit, in terms of his preparation. But this year, he's been healthy, he's been engaged, he's been in the weight room, doing things that we've asked him to do. So I've been happy with what he's done to date."

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