Thursday, September 17, 2009

May I be allowed one "I told you so?

Me, September 14, 2007, on the Patriots being stripped of a first-round draft pick for violating an NFL rule on camera position and usage:
There are a lot of people who are thrilled to have an opportunity to play whack-a-mole with [Bill Belichick]. So we are treated to the "Beli-cheat" headlines, and all of the people that he's beaten over the years revelling in the "well, of course he beat us - he was cheating!" after-the-fact rationalizations. This story is very different if it's the Houston Texans or Minnesota Vikings. And the punishment is, too. Why is the punishment different? Because you don't have the punishment issued by the commissioner after a week of every media member hammering on how tough the commissioner is, and how hard he's going to be on this transgression. The media spent the week ensuring that Goodell had to either hammer the Patriots or get hammered himself., yesterday, after the Jets were fined for violating a rule on information disclosure:
The NFL assessed $125,000 in fines to the New York Jets and former coach Eric Mangini on Wednesday for violating the league's rules on injury reporting with former quarterback Brett Favre last season.

The Jets failed to place Favre, now with the Minnesota Vikings, on the injury report during the final month of last season even though he had a torn biceps tendon.

The league announced it had fined the Jets $75,000, and Mangini and Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum $25,000 apiece. Mangini now coaches the Cleveland Browns.

I now allow myself one "I told you so!" Roger Goodell screwed up. What he did to New England was massively unfair, and it was clearly massively unfair. As I noted at the time, Denver's violation of the salary cap rules to keep John Elway cost them only a second round pick. Does anyone want to argue that New England's "crime" was somehow worse? Anyone?

I didn't think so.

There were those who said that the Patriots got no significant unfair advantage from their rule violation. To which the responses were, "well, it was against the rules anyway" and "if there was no advantage, why did they do it?" So to any who might say that the Jets got no significant unfair advantage from their rule violation, "well, it was against the rules anyway" and "if there was no advantage, why did they do it?" If there's a compelling case to be made that what New England did was somehow worse for the game, or competitive balance, or fairness, or anything else, I'd love to see that case. I don't buy it.

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