It goes on and on, this saga, this war between the NFL Players Association and the National Football League.
The issues are everywhere. A roster of players, who don’t get it. A Union that is looking for a fight everyday. And a League that is blatantly inconsistent in the penalties metered out.
Domestic abuse is the issue in neon lights these days. Illegeal use of PEDs. A garden variety of things like marijuana, alcohol, assaults, guns, traffic incidents do still crop up.
You can legislate rules in the NFL. You cannot legislate common sense. You can have a list of sanctions that match crimes. You cannot create moral fiber in players.
You can have a standard of discipline, but you cannot make progress if the Union is going to fight you tooth and nail on every sanction handed down.
And then there is the gray-area of NFL discipline. The collective bargaining agreement, voted on by both sides (union-owners), says the Commissioner is judge and jury on discipline, and then on appeals hearings. Now the NFLPA is trying to change that in mid-term of this agreement, to better protect-serve their players.
The scoreboard shows a hap-hazard way of metering out discipline to players. The court dockets show hearing after hearing, appeal upon appeal.
You tell me which is the worst crime of all, and then look at the score of games players were suspended for, and tell me if there is any consistency to any of this?
Tom Brady-Deflate-Gate…(4-game suspension) , though there is not hard evidence he ordered ball boys to tamper with balls. Now he is threatening to sue the Commissioner.
Greg Hardy-Domestic Abuse..(4-game suspension) in a year long battle over the choking of his then girf friend and threats of violence with a gun. He missed the entire Carolina season but received his 13M salary.
Adrian Peterson-Child Abuse (2-game suspension) in a nasty dispute over the right to discipline his own child. He sat out 15-games but was paid 7.5M.
Ray Rice-Domestic Abuse (2-game suspension) in the video documentation of the knockout punch of his then fiancee. He was released by the Ravens.
Is Brady’s sin worse than the others because it was an integrity of the game issue? Which is more egregious, the beating of a 4-year old child, or the violence towards a woman?
Granted, in the past, there were no black-white copies of specific suspensions for specific crimes. There are now, ranging from 2-games to 6-games, depeneding on whether we are talking marijuana suspension, to something as hideous as violence against a woman or child, or the injurying of an officer.
Maybe the NFL was behind the power curve if formulating policy. Maybe it didn’t really care what players did Monday thru Friday, as long as they played on Sunday. Maybe the world of social media, cameras everywhere, and the spectre of the loss of big sponsors, has brought them full circle back to the table.
Players keep getting arrested. Yes 35-out of 1800, will start this season under some type of NFL suspension.
A couple of things should happen next.
The owners need to stand up and define penalties for all wrong doing, fines and suspensions. The players should start holding teammates accountable, and stop paying solar system legal fees to lawyers trying to get players off the hook.
And the NFL Union, always out front defending their clients, should distribute tee-shirts to the every player in a training camp that reads “Obey the law.”
Each is to blame. None seem to want to share the shame.