I have enjoyed these Olympics day after day like I do my Stella Artois, pint after pint. There comes a time though when you should ease back on throttle. Oops, I missed it. As is par for the course, there is always a price to pay for too much of anything. This is not to take away from Derek Drouin’s fantastic accomplishment of winning a gold medal in high jump (Canada’s 3rd in Rio) but for now however, I have a very big bone to pick. You should by now know I have a great dislike for sports organizations that have grown so large that they are above the law. The arrogance of Sepp Blatter and FIFA, the indisputable spineless hypocrisy of Thomas Bach and the IOC and one that I have not touched upon that makes the third tine of Satan’s Trident, the bullish, caveman mentality of Roger Goodell and the NFL. What do I mean by caveman mentality… take a look.
Now I have grown to love football this past year as I have been able to watch it from a grassroots level (Thank you to Nick Burns, @SuperEliteFB) and see what a positive influence football can be for children and young men. But the NFL is a different story altogether. What Goodell is allowed to do is criminal and yet, he is able to get away with it because the NFL Players Union completely folded during their last negotiations. This is the only sport that I am aware of that does not have guaranteed contracts. The only sport who “allows the Commissioner to sit as the arbitrator in all disputes brought pursuant to Article 46, Section 1(a).” Deflategate is a great example where Goodell was the arbitrator in a grievance between a player and the very league he is commissioner in. Think about it, Roger GODell has all the power. He awarded a 4 game suspension (equivalent to about 20 games in hockey) to Tom Brady based on the Ted Wells investigation that said (and I quote) “it is more probable than not that Tom Brady was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities of McNally and Jastremski involving the release of air from Patriots game balls.” Really? Really NFL? You suspend someone based on “more probable than not” so much for innocent until proven guilty. With that as your backdrop, players should be afraid of anything that comes from the commissioner as has come up again.
It started a few months ago when Al Jazeera news ran a story that a number of high profile NFL players, including recently retired Payton Manning, were using performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). The Commissioner in his infinite wisdom said they would investigate the issue and has demanded the players (Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, James Harrison and Mike Neal) will be suspended if they are unwilling to be interviewed by league investigators by August 25th. Isn’t that odd? Does anybody else see something missing here? Oh yes, I know… how about FACTS! The NFL has the power to have a player provide testimony that might incriminate himself based on any substantiated or unsubstantiated reports. Literally, this means that if I (or anyone) tweet out that Cam Newton or Aaron Rodgers takes PEDs, than Goodell can force them to present evidence that can be used against them. You may be thinking well, if the players are innocent than they have nothing to hide, so they should gladly go for the interview. What? Did you not read the paragraph above? This has nothing to do with a person being found guilty beyond all reasonable doubt. This is a case where even if you “sound” guilty you could be suspended. For those not familiar with Germany or Italy during the 1940s, this is what a dictatorship looks like. To really underline here how incredulous this all is, one of the main sources (Charlie Sly) for the Al Jazeera story has even recanted his story. Yet Goodell is still pushing to investigate.
Throw in last year’s farce with how the league handled both the Ray Rice and Adrian Pederson situations and I am in fear that the NFL will soon rival the audacity of FIFA and the IOC. I have heard those that defend Goodell say that he is good for the NFL because he has brought the league a lot of money. The truth about Goodell is (and unfortunately I don’t recall the person who said this, but) even the worst bartender is going to make a ton of money during Spring Break. We will have to wait until 2020 (when the current CBA expires) to finally see if the Players Association has any back bone and can thwart back this evil empire (cue in the Darth Vader theme). In the meantime, try to enjoy the product on the field while ignoring the buffoonery that is happening off of it. Otherwise, that puking sensation you feel won’t be because of the one-too-many tail gate beverages, it will be out of the sheer disgust of the abuse of power of one Mr. Roger Goodell.
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