The New Orleans Saints have provided us with a statement in response to the decision by assistant defensive line coach Travis Jones to plead guilty to federal conspiracy charges in relation to two fraudulent loan applications filed by Jones, from which he gained more than $80,000 (possibly exceeding the entire lifetime profit realized by Mike Vick via dogfighting).
“We are aware of the situation with Travis,” team spokesman Greg Bensel said via e-mail retrieved by my Sprint Blackberry Tour despite currently being in the middle of nowhere, catching fish (five and counting) and listening to Johnny Cash sing about trains and inmates. “He has communicated to Mickey Loomis and Sean Payton throughout the process. We don’t have any further comment from the club, as beyond this comment, this is a personal matter relative to Travis and his case.”
We’ve sent a request for comment to the league office, but we’ve yet to receive a response.
Jones changed his plea from not guilty to guilty in the hopes of avoiding jail time. Whether he does remains to be seen. It also remains to be seen whether the NFL imposes any discipline before Jones receives word as to his sentence.
The fact that the league has taken no action despite Jones’ indictment on federal charges and guilty plea to the same serves only to bolster the perception of a double standard. The truth could be that the league moves more quickly and decisively based on media coverage. Cases with a higher profile tend to land on the league’s radar screen more quickly.
Though Jones may eventually face punishment under the Personal Conduct Policy, the mere fact that the league didn’t pounce on Jones upon indictment on federal charges suggests that two standards indeed apply. But the dividing line may not fall between player and non-player. The more likely separation applies to celebrities and average Joes, with the big-name player putting the league in a much more public predicament — and in turn triggering a much swifter sanction.