Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Isn't That Sweet?

The NFL is certainly the land of second chances. Even the guys that have made bonehead mistakes in the last few months have had transgressions in the past that would suggest terrible behavior in the future. Well, Bill Belichick certainly falls into that category. The beauty of the NFL though is that if you are the right person your transgressions are judged by one person and one person only, Roger Goodell. This guy wants you to think he is tough but I have my doubts. Yes, he did throw the book at Pacman Jones, Tank Johnson and Michael Vick. Really, does it take a disciplinarian to determine those guys are morons? But because Goodell handed out suspensions never seen before, the media made him out to be the ultimate "the buck stops here" kind of guy. After much thought I don't agree.

The most current and relevant situation involves Belichick. I have let my feelings on him be known but some follow up is appropriate. Goodell really showed him not to misinterpret the rules last week. He was fined about 11% of his annual salary, which isn't $20,000 mind you. Wait, that's not all. Provided Belichick makes the playoffs he will not have 1 of his 2 first round draft picks. My oh my, what is a coach to do with only 1 first round draft pick? And if the Patriots don't make the playoffs they give up two middle round picks. I am thoroughly not impressed with the punishment of taking draft picks, particularly in this age of free agency. Patriots supporters will claim Belichick is a drafting wizard but if I'm not mistaken his biggest additions this year were through trades or free agency. You tell me, were these guys drafted this last year? Adalius Thomas, Randy Moss, Donte Stallworth and Wes Welker. Simply said, the punishment Goodell handed out was weak. Belichick has a history of cheating and was recently warned not to cheat but simply claiming a misinterpretation of the rules is enough for Goodell to slap his wrist. I could care less if this is an unprecedented punishment. The offense committed is also unprecedented!

Goodell's soft spoken interview with Bob Costas on Sunday Night was real stirring and would have brought me to my knees if I was a cheating coach. Goodell is so certain Belichick is going to hand over all the film that is asked for. Who in their right mind would say that with a straight face? I mean Belichick has shown he is a man with great character after all. The guy cheated after you told him not to and now you're convinced he isn't going to trash incriminating video? I could have sworn people have tried to tell me Goodell is smart. Goodell's crack research team will come back saying all they found was footage from the 2 games that Belichick was caught cheating in. I just hope I'm not the only one that doesn't believe it. I can say for sure Goodell likely will though.

To top off the whole Bill Belichick story I have had to read articles about the team standing behind their coach following the win over the Chargers. Why weren't these guys standing up for Belichick last week? Those Patriots are incredibly ballsy showing support when they did. It sure is easy to stand behind a guy that blatantly cheats after a big win. Tedy Brushci and Mike Vrabel, I'm still trying to decide which is football's version of the incredibly overrated Derek Jeter, are acting like Belichick is a true American hero. They also likely think Rodney Harrison was unfairly suspended for HGH use and will want to give him a parade through Boston after his first interception following his suspension. Something tells me Bruschi and Vrabel would get their jock strap in a bunch if an opposing coach had repeatedly done the same thing as Belichick. I know, call me crazy.

Let me just leave you with some words of advice. The next time Goodell gets a thumbs up from the media for suspending a player just remember that he is in bed with the owners, particularly owners who like to be in the media (see Kraft, Bob). A punishment I would have liked to have seen would have been a reduction in the Patriots salary cap of $5-$10M for the next couple of years. That would have taught every team and coach in the NFL not to cheat. I suppose the reason Goodell's punishment for Belichick was so weak was because he doesn't really care.

(Photo from AP.)

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