ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) " Bills running back Marshawn Lynch will miss the first three games of the regular season after being suspended without pay by the NFL for violating the league's personal conduct policy.
The NFL announced the suspension Thursday, a month after Lynch pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor gun charge in Los Angeles. It was the player's second run-in with the law, following a hit-and-run accident in Buffalo in May.
The suspension means the Bills will be without the 2007 first-round draft pick for their prime-time season-opener at New England on Sept. 14. The rest of the Bills schedule has not been released.
Lynch apologized for his actions, and anticipated he'd be suspended after meeting with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell last month.
Under league rules, the suspension takes effect after the Bills final preseason game, and Lynch will be allowed to take part in the team's offseason programs, including training camp.
Lynch has the option to appeal the ruling.
Lynch characterized the meeting with Goodell as a wake-up call, and said the commissioner's message had sunk in.
"Something that he stressed throughout the meeting was that he will not tolerate any more screw-ups by me," Lynch said. "I never had the intention of getting into trouble or anything like that. But along the way my road got rocky, and now you know it's time to set my pavement straight."
The Bills released a statement supporting the league's personal conduct policy while noting Lynch's commitment to act responsibly.
"When (Lynch) spoke to the media recently, he talked about making changes and better decisions, and we feel that he is moving forward in a positive direction," the Bills said.
Lynch was arrested near Los Angeles on Feb. 11. In searching a parked car carrying Lynch, Culver City police found a 9mm semiautomatic handgun inside a backpack in the trunk. Police also found four marijuana cigarettes in the car, but no drug charges were filed.
He pleaded guilty to having a concealed firearm and was sentenced to 80 hours community service and three years' probation.
Without Lynch, the Bills will be missing one of their key offensive threats. He's coming off consecutive seasons with 1,000 yards rushing, and last year led the team with nine touchdowns.
Backup Fred Jackson would likely take over as the interim starter. Jackson, however, has yet to accept the team's one-year $460,000 tender offer while attempting to negotiate a long-term deal with the Bills.
Lynch already has become more active in the Buffalo community. Earlier this week, Lynch and Bills cornerback Terrence McGee provided financial assistance to help sponsor the 18th annual Gus Macker 3-on-3 basketball tournament, which will be held in Buffalo in late June.
"They are really doing something pretty historic," Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said. "Not only are they devoting some of their time, but they are putting up their personal dollars to support the event."