Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Jones should shut the f up

Consider:  suppose John Mara walks in front of TV cameras and microphones, and announces that Jerry Jones has been violating the salary cap rules by paying Tony Romo cash under the table in direct violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Furthermore, he charges that Jones has been employing Romo's wife in a no-show job as assistant choreographer for the Dallas Cowgirl cheerleaders. Mara demands that the Cowboys be penalized for their evasion of the salary cap rules with a heavy fine and the loss of draft choices in the next draft. Jones has cheated the system, asserts Mara and he should not get off free.

John Mara is a serious, well respected owner, carrying a lot of sway with his colleagues and with the league. Of course the league would listen to these serious allegations and would investigate appropriately. They would ask for records, evidence, bank accounts, deposits, etc. Unfortunately, it turns out that Mara was just yanking Jerry's chain and had manufactured these charges just because they seemed likely. What would the NFL then do? No doubt, they would go to Mara and reprimand him severely. They would hit him with a large fine and warn him that if he did this again, the penalties would be even more severe, up to and including suspension, cash and loss of draft choices for HIS New York Giants team. After all, the NFL brand is important and it survives on its integrity. Making false allegations about a team cheating and violating that integrity of the game, whether on the field or off the field is no laughing matter. We saw how hard the NFL came down on Bellichick and the Patriots with the illegal videoing practices. They take cheating very, very seriously. In the future, Goodell tells Mara, if you have a suspicion like this, bring it to the league privately; do not besmirch the character and integrity of another NFL team publicly.

Now let's consider what Jerry Jones did Sunday night. He accused the Giants of faking injuries to slow down the powerful Cowboys offense. (That's the fearful Cowboys offense that produced all of 330 yards of offense and 13 points that came without the benefit of turnovers.) Jones was referring to Dan Connor and Cullen Jenkins. Connor had a burner, a potentially serious neurological injury, and he never returned to the game. Jenkins left for a few plays, cleared his head and came back in. The NFL knows that Jones is a serious owner and, just like in the hypothetical case above, investigated Jones' charges. The league immediately said that there is no basis for accusation of the Giants.

In my hypothetical case above, one team accused the other team of cheating and was seriously reprimanded for it. Why, in the real case, when Jones actually did accuse the Giants of lack of integrity and cheating, should Jones not be fined. He can't just say whatever he wants. I get that the first amendment protects free speech, and he should not be thrown in jail. But in a private club or association, like the NFL, there is some tacit requirement to act responsibly and not accuse another member of improper behavior. The NFL should not just let this stand. And Jerry Jones should shut the f up.

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