While most in the NFL were mulling over potential rule changes, league officials shifted their focus to rule violations that occurred last season and at the beginning of free agency. Since then, a couple rulings have been handed down by the league. The problem — the punishments don’t necessarily fit the crime.
The first ruling to come down was on the Atlanta Falcons and the ordeal with pumping in artificial crowd noise at home games. Not only is this illegal, but it can also be seen as a safety issue, as players can’t hear defenders coming. The team was fined $350,000 and they will lose a fifth-round pick in next year’s draft.
Money isn’t much of a factor for these teams, so the fine doesn’t hurt them, but the draft pick forfeiture is ridiculous. It should be more than a fifth-round pick and the fact that it is not for this year’s draft is crazy. Atlanta can easily make a trade or two over the next year to recover that pick.
The fact that there was no suspension to the general manager or owner is a little surprising as well. Team president Rich McKay has been suspended from the competition committee, but he can apply for reinstatement on June 30.
Shortly after the Falcons ruling came down, the Cleveland Browns’ texting fiasco wrapped up. Browns GM Ray Farmer was suspended for four games for sending texts to personnel on the field during games in the 2014 season. The Browns organization was fined $250,000.
Given the two punishments, one light and one severe, it is hard to imagine what could come from some of the independent investigations the league is undertaking.
At the beginning of free agency, the league came out and said they were unhappy with some of the deals that were agreed on before free agency officially opened. They said they would be looking into a couple of deals, the big one being between the Miami Dolphins and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. While the NFL is unlikely to void contracts, they could fine offending teams and possibly take away draft picks.
Aside from the tampering charge the league is looking into on their own time, there are two cases of a team accusing another of breaking the rules.
The New York Jets’ tampering charges against the New England Patriots should not yield any punishment. The Patriots’ tampering charges against the Jets on the other hand is much more serious, since the player allegedly tampered with ended up signing with New York.
Oh, and the “Deflate-Gate” controversy is still unresolved.
In the eyes of many, the NFL has lost a lot of respect. The confidence people have in the league is at an all-time low. The league needs to do a better job of setting up a fair punishment system for violators.
Roger Goodell needs to regain some of the authority he lost with the mishandling of the domestic abuse cases at the beginning of the season and this would be a good start. If forfeiture of draft picks is something the NFL wants, the league has four weeks to dish out the penalty.