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Packers and Letroy Guion both look bad in light of new investigation

A report that surfaced over the weekend puts both the player and the team in a negative light.

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Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Whether it's because he's a fairly anonymous player or because the Packers PR staff is just that good, it always struck me just how quickly (and quietly) Letroy Guion's February arrest went away. It'd be one thing if this were your standard, run-of-the-mill off-season brush with the law, but remember, Guion was busted with more than three-quarters of a pound of marijuana, $190,000 in cash and a semi-automatic handgun.

Even if you chalked the first two up to him just wanting to go home, get high and roll around on bed of cash (I would if I had that much money!), the addition of the handgun to the mix at least adds to suspicions that Guion may have been involved in a deeper level of criminal activity. Now, thanks to a damning report that came out over the weekend from Michael Cohen and John Diedrich of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, we have more information that suggests this was the case.

The report covers most the basics of Guion's February arrest - including the fact that the drug charge was lessened (and the gun charge dropped altogether) but two major things stick out beyond that. The first is a deposition from a Starke, Florida police sergeant that connected Guion with being a financier of drug dealers, who, moved some pretty serious stuff including crack cocaine. That's bad enough, but the report's other revelation is an even bigger bombshell. The Journal-Sentinel reports that Guion was involved in three other issues, two of which were domestic violence incidents, including one in which Guion was charged with slugging the mother of his daughter in the jaw.*

*It must be noted that charges were dropped in two of the three cases, and Guion paid restitution to avoid prosecution in the third. Guion's lawyer also denied allegations about his client's involvement in drug trafficking.

More information on the report will continue to trickle out over the next week or so and I'm sure we'll get a press conference or statement from Guion that includes quotes like, "That was the past" or, "I'm a changed man" or some other bullet point on a PR-approved key messaging document. But I'm not really here to talk about Guion because that picture has been painted pretty thoroughly by Guion himself.

Instead, I'd like to talk about the Packers because as bad as Guion looks here, the team doesn't come away looking much better.

That's especially true when you consider the timing. Remember, Guion was signed in 2014, just as the Ray Rice scandal reached critical mass. Given how things have gone for the NFL and their issues with domestic violence since then, Guion's signing looks like one of the more tone-deaf additions the Packers have made in recent history. Add in the other stuff, and it makes you wonder just how a guy with Guion's history is signed in the first place. The way I see it, there are three possibilities.

The first is that the Packers had no knowledge of Guion's criminal history, which, given the painstaking detail in how NFL teams vet players nowadays - especially a team that signs free agents so infrequently as the Packers - seems, shall we say, unlikely.

The second possibility is that the Packers got only nuggets of information on Guion and, after hearing some disturbing things, decided not to dig any deeper, exercising the kind of willful ignorance many have accused Roger Goodell and the NFL of in the Ray Rice incident. That’s obviously not a good look, but, as we’ve seen with Ray Rice, that kind of thing is also incredibly difficult to prove. So long as the Packers maintain that they didn’t know the full picture – even if they were partially to blame in failing to obtain that picture – at worst, makes them look negligent. That’s bad, but not nearly as bad as the potential third possibility:

They knew everything and signed Guion anyway.

It's an unnerving thought, but it's also a stark reminder that in the NFL, talent trumps everything. Guion came cheap and only for a year so the Packers always had a quick, affordable out had Guion screwed up, but you have to think that if Letroy Guion was named Joe McSmuck and had the same history, he wouldn't be a Green Bay Packer.

Now granted, Guion's previous run-ins all occurred as a member of the Vikings, but Jerry Jones and the Cowboys caught all kinds of hell when they signed Greg Hardy, whose crimes occurred when he was with another team. If it is true the Packers knew that Guion had been charged with three counts of battery against a woman and looked past it, there's absolutely no reason Ted Thompson and the Packers shouldn't catch the same kind of hell.

It would also be a significant blemish on one of the more respected franchises in the NFL. Like every team, the Packers are no stranger to player misconduct - Johnny Jolly and Erik Walden come to recent memory - but they've managed to come out in most cases with their integrity still intact. With Guion however, that would be much harder.

Unfortunately, we don't know what the Packers knew when they signed Guion, and we probably never will. So the question becomes, what do the Packers do from here? Ultimately, it comes down to what the Packers value more - saving face from a PR standpoint, or depth at defensive tackle. That might seem like an easy choice especially given the NFL's rickety position when it comes to domestic violence. But as we've learned with these things, you can never underestimate the lengths a team is willing to go in order to win.

Given an opportunity to respond today, Head Coach Mike McCarthy was noticeably agitated when asked about the Journal-Sentinel article during his Monday press conference. Here's what he said:

First of all, I'm not going to react to the article. I thought it was garbage. The fact of the matter is we take a lot of pride in our program here. We have a lot of guys who make mistakes, there have been second chances. There's a thorough process that goes on continuously We're all being evaluated. We all have bosses, but this program is something that's been built over 10 years here. I personally take a lot of pride in the program. Unfortunately, we'll have someone that's probably going to make a mistake in the future. We'll evaluate it and move forward.

We'll let you make your own decisions about how to interpret that, but it does not sound like someone who's real happy with the Journal Sentinel's report.

We'll learn soon enough what, if anything, the Packers decide to do about Guion but for now, they find themselves in a tough spot. One they can only blame themselves for being in.