Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Selective Discipline...

Yea, I know - it was more than 3 weeks ago, but I'm still angry about it... ever since Roger Goodell took over as NFL Commissioner in 2006, I've generally been supportive of the changes he's made & pretty much given him a pass on most of the questionable rule-changes & decisions he's made, but the Terrelle Pryor 5-game suspension, quite honestly, pissed me off.

Just to catch you up, Pryor (and 4 other teammates) received a 5-game by the NCAA for selling championship rings jerseys and awards along with accepting gifts & money from a tattoo parlor & it's owner during his time at Ohio State University, an infraction his coach Jim Tressel, had full knowledge of, but failed to report to the NCAA. The improper benefits were later discovered by the NCAA this past winter, but Pryor & company were allowed to play in OSU's bowl game, provided they agree to serve the 5-game suspension the following season.

Pryor & his 4 co-conspirators did indeed participate in the Sugar Bowl (a 31-26 victory over Arkansas), but this summer Tressel resigned as head coach of OSU amid the ongoing scandal & Pryor decided to go pro, rather than return to OSU. Since the NFL draft had already taken place in April, Pryor entered his name into the NFL's supplemental draft (a closed-door draft held for players with special circumstances preventing them from participating in the NFL's general draft) to be held just before the start of the season.

He was allowed to participate in the draft provided he agree to serve a 5-game NFL suspension following his eventual selection by the Oakland Raiders in the supplemental draft. There are few things in life that bug me more than interfering with a person's right to go out & make money. In my mind, the league has no right (nor authority) to impose any sort of suspension based upon infractions in a previous 'amateur' league.

Yes, he most likely committed infractions while a student-athlete but there is no previous precedent that justifies commuting an NCAA suspension to any sort of NFL punishment. In fact, the exact opposite is the only precedent that existed before this situation. In 2009, Jeremy Jarmon was suspended for his ENTIRE senior season at the University of Kentucky for what the NCAA called an illegal diuretic. The NFL allowed him into the supplemental draft that year with no carryover punishment whatsoever, so.... wtf???

Colleges & universities are hit with NCAA sanctions all the time based upon infractions committed by players who have long since gone pro, so why is Pryor being made an example here? It would have been all-too-easy for the League to develop & properly publicize such future penalties for players who go pro & are later found (or already known) to be violators of NCAA rules, but to be singled-out & be used as a lab rat isn't right either. This is the same league that denied Johnny Unitas (& many more) disability pay for injuries clearly sustained as a result of a professional football career, & now all of the sudden the league has a conscience? Yea, right.

League spokesperson Greg Aiello said Pryor was suspended by Goodell for 'essentially' violating the spirit of the supplemental draft... really? So violating the spirit of rule justifies completely making up your own in response? The case-by-case evaluation of players to be disciplined by the league has gotten completely out of hand. It seems that Gooddell & the League office haven't a clue as what they're doing & I'm wondering when the NFL Player's Association (or any civil rights group for that matter) will step-in.

I was even MORE disappointed to learn that Pryor would not be appealing the 5-game suspension. I guess I understand why - he just wants to cut his losses & get started with his pro career & put this all behind him, who could blame him? But I think he did he & his fellow league players a bit of a disservice by giving-in to 'Master Goodell' so easily. Incidentally, did you know that a violation of the league's substance abuse policy typically only carries a suspension of about 4 games (for repeat offenders) & as few as 1 game, or in the case of popular stars like Pittsburgh's Hines Ward, a 0-game suspension? So that means the NFL's penalty for getting slapped with DUI, using coke, smoking weed or taking steroids is LESS severe than receiving improper benefits while attending any of the NCAA's member schools - what a f@#%ed up system.

Oh & Pryor's former college coach? He accepted a coaching position with the Indianapolis Colts, without penalty from the League. Instead, the Colts themselves decided to suspend Tressel (for 5-games) days later, as the new hiring began to pick up steam among media outlets. When asked about the team-imposed suspension, Goodell said he would have suspended Tressel if the Colts had not already done so, bull-sh!t, absolute bull-sh!t.

He didn't waste a moment suspending Pryor beforehand, so why would he sit back and allow the Colts the opportunity discipline Tressel themselves, when he hadn't offered the Raiders the same opportunity with Pryor??? While I don't condone Pryor's improper actions, such infractions have existed for years & it's hardly fair to use Pryor as an example to help supplement the League's weak stance regarding players & their previous NCAA infractions before turning pro.

What if you quit a VOLUNTEER job, failed to give 2-weeks notice & the government decided to dock your 1st 2-weeks of pay at your new PAYING gig? The way I see it, that's basically what happened here. Yes, quitting the job & giving no notice is certainly frowned upon & probably considered immoral by many, but you'd go ballistic if you were penalized for actions taken while employed in a previous position.

The 1st thing you'd probably wonder is 'why the government is involved in the 1st place' the second might be 'can they even do this?' Where is the equal standard of justice? All I ask for, in any walk of life, is consistency across the board - the League has proven to be incapable of providing such. I don't trust the Goodell to be fair in such dealings & can't possibly conceive how any NFL player would either...

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