Friday, September 14, 2007

Goodell Drops the Ball

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell screwed the pooch with his slap-on-the-wrist penalty levied against the New England Patriots in the Bill Belichick video-taping-defensive-play-calls cheating scandal.

The final verdict: Belichick fined $500,000. The Patriots fined an addition $250,000 and the loss of draft pick(s) - a 1st round pick if the Pats make the playoffs. 2nd and 3rd round if they don't.

Wow, what a whopper. Fining and organization worth over a BILLION dollar a total of $750K. Whew, dunno if they'll be able to recover the cost. Where will they ever recoup that kind of money?

Putting the loss of a draft pick - which does hurt, by the way - into better perspective: The Patriots have 2 first round picks next April (they traded with the 49ers), so will lose their own, but keep the undoubtedly higher pick. Consider this, the Pats drafted what 7, 8 players this past April - they kept TWO on their opening day roster. Oh, gee, though, will that hefty penalty the league office laid on them, wow, they might have to hit free agency again....what a joke. Losing one pick, even a high one, will NOT discourage teams from doing this sort of thing. It will just make them more careful.

But you know what, its not the actually penalty that I think is wrong. The Commissioner issued on the stiffest penalties he could have according the By-laws of the league with the sorts of tools he decided to use (the max. fines were levied).

My issue with Goodell is the incredible stupid risk he's taking by NOT holding Belichick to the same standard to which he has held numerous other NFL employees. NFL Players are subject to 4 game suspensions (that's the loss of nearly 25% of the pay - because most of the their money is doled in weekly game checks) if they violate various rules - most commonly violating the league substance abuse policy.

But throughout this off-season, Roger Goodell has lowered the boom players (and other coaches) who's actions has tarnished the image of the league (mostly for criminal law violations):
- Pacman Jones - who is but all accounts immature and deserving of a suspension - gets a year suspension for a litany of run-ins with the law.
- Tank Johnson - 8 games for weapons charges
- Chris Henry - 8 game for violating probation (idiot)
- Vick - indefinite following his plea
- Rodney Harrison - 4 games for violating SAP
- Wade Wilson (coach) - 5 games for violating SAP (personal use of HGH).

What I would argue is this: with the exception of Harrison, none of the those suspended players did anything intended to directly affect the outcome of the game on the field. Even in Rodney's case - it was probably more like he wanted his body to be able to recover faster, heck he's what 37? Yet BOOM. Heavy penalties were levied.

And now we have Belichick, Head Coach of the one of the highest profile teams in the league, organizing a high-tech effort to cheat and deliberately derive an unfair competitive advantage ON THE FIELD. The penalty? It'll cost you some dough. That's the message. Hey if cheating will help you win a Super Bowl, but you might have to cough up a cool quarter mill.....if you get caught....and trust me, it was the Patriots arrogance that got them caught....shit, why not?

Garry Cobb said it best (excuse the grammar): This is more behavior of the good old boy club. Most of the guys on the microphone who are connected to the league will be easy on the cheating coach, but they wanted to throw the book at any players who violated league rules. One thing character exemplifies is adherence to principles and consistency. I see double standards. (end quote).

That last line is the true danger folks. The perception of Goodell just being another one of the boys. Willing to swiftly lay down the hammer of judgment on uppity youngsters at the first hint of thug-life, while playing patty-cakes with offenders who happen to be part of the club.

Belichick is a head coach, with incredible responsibility for running what has long-been considered one of the, if not THE, top organization in the NFL. He should have been held to the highest standard. Instead he got a chuckle and a "now be a good boy" pat on the butt.

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