I have thought NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had done a wonderful job bringing discipline to the NFL. I agreed with his suspensions of Pacman Jones and Chris Henry last spring. I became a little uneasy with Goodell’s authoritative stance on the Patriots’ spy taping incident. It seemed that he was unusually swift in leveling a penalty against the Pats and then destroying the evidence, for whatever mysterious reasons that act entailed.
Now that Goodell has penalized the 49ers by revoking a fifth-round draft choice and making the team swap third-round choices with the Bears after very little evidence supporting the â€˜9ers tampering of the Bears’ Lance Briggs, I have lost almost all confidence in Goodell.
It’s one thing to set a precedent for the league by disciplining teams for cheating. It’s another to rule with such an iron-clad fist that it seems as though evidence is not needed for a team to be ruled guilty.
According to sources from many writers (ESPN’s John Clayton, San Francisco Chronicle’s Kevin Lynch) the only “evidence” against the Niners was two phone calls made to Brigg’s agent Drew Rosenhaus that went unanswered. And these calls were made to the Bears before the end of the October 16 trade deadline.
How Goodell determined that a fifth-round choice was the one that had to be taken away is anyone’s guess. But to make the 49ers switch places with the Chicago Bears in the third round (San Fran drops from seventh to 12th), is mind-boggling on every level.
Does Goodell have a handbook for penalty recommendations? Did he list every San Fran draft pick on a wall and blindly throw a dart at one of them? Did he play eeny meeny miney moe?
I am supportive of penalizing a team, including the 49ers, if there is clear evidence against them. I am not supportive of penalizing a team because it seems that they might have clear evidence against them. Tampering among teams, agents and players is one of the NFL’s most glaring unspoken rules.
If it’s true that the only evidence the NFL has is two missed phone calls from the 49ers to Briggs’ agent Rosenhaus, then the league – especially Goodell – is tredding some dangerous water regarding disciplining cheating teams.
Niner Insider Kevin Lynch says that Commissioner Goodell could have used the 49ers as an example to warn the rest of the league about tampering:
Ray Ratto has a logical take on cheating:
In other Niners news, Pro Football Weekly reported that Mike Martz is so intrigued by J.T. O’Sullivan’s potential that he expects the clipboard-holder to seriously compete for the starting quarterback position. Martz really is a mad scientist, with emphasis on “mad.”