Last week, Jets G.M. Mike Tannenbaum took the public fall for the realities of having a head coach with a bad habit of talking too little, and a quarterback with a bad habit of talking too much.
The Jets previously had been in the clear for failing to include Brett Favre on the injury report. After the 2008 season ended, Favre immediately started to talk about an arm injury that hampered his performance down the stretch. As the offseason unfolded, it became more and more clear that Favre was indeed injured.
But the league left it alone until last week, when Favre again revisited the issue, saying it was so bad that coach Eric Mangini should have benched him.
So the league no longer could ignore the situation. And not even Mangini, who like Favre no longer works for the Jets, will escape the investigation.
“Since he was head coach of the Jets at the time, we are reviewing his role in the situation as part of the overall review,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told the Associated Press on Tuesday.
And, presumably, Mangini can be fined or otherwise punished in his capacity as the head coach of the Browns, if it’s determined that he made the decision not to list Favre on the injury report, even though Favre clearly was injured.
Mangini previously has spoken about the competitive advantage that flows from uncertainty regarding injuries, and the league previously has not punished teams for failing to disclose injuries, as long as the player has played.
The problem in this case is that the tenuous facade of open access to information has been disrupted by Favre’s candor, and so the league must do something to restore it.
But it likely won’t change the reality that the league office typically looks the other way, as long as the player fully participates in practice and plays, when teams like the Steelers don’t disclose in the week before the Super Bowl that Ben Roethlisberger as having a rib injury or the Patriots fail to mention that running back Laurence Maroney has a broken shoulder.
Barring a dramatic overhaul of the current system, the league will continue to follow that same approach, unless and until the next Brett Favre repeatedly emphasizes that he played with an injury, in the hopes of ensuring that every American citizen realizes that he has a good excuse for consistently throwing the football to the wrong team.