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League claims to be investigating reports of lockout contact

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Even during the lockout, the weekdays often entail a blur of activity.  On Saturdays and Sundays, we try to catch anything that we may have overlooked.

When it comes to the report from Mike Freeman of that assistant coaches have been contacting players during the lockout, we missed the follow up from Clark Judge of regarding the league’s decision to investigate.

“We will look into any allegations and follow up on them,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told Judge.  Previously, Aiello had told PFT that the league is monitoring the issue in “various ways.”

It all sounds good on paper (assuming anything actually is printed on paper anymore), but unless and until the league catches someone and publicly takes action we won’t believe that the league actually intends to take the situation seriously.  Though there’s a chance that the league will make some unlucky team the sacrificial lamb on this issue, the truth is that the practice likely has become too widespread to permit a fair and even-handed enforcement.

Indeed, our NBC colleague Rodney Harrison told PFT Live earlier this week that he knows that coaches and players are talking.  “Are you kidding me?  Whether it’s a cousin’s cell phone, calling someone up, that’s all part of it. . . . You gotta be crazy if you don’t think that’s happening,” Harrison said.   “I won’t say who, but I know there is communication going on.”

It’s hardly an isolated incident at this point.  So how can the NFL punish one coach or team and not all who are breaking the rules?

It can’t happen, and it won’t happen.  Like so many other forms of cheating, the NFL has nothing to gain and plenty to lose by letting the media, the fans, and ultimately Congress conclude that the sport is littered with cheaters.  As a result, the league prefers to make a periodic example out of a team that was reckless and/or brash in its cheating, and to otherwise find a way to look the other way when it comes to tampering or other violations of the rules that technically amount to cheating.

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23 Responses to “League claims to be investigating reports of lockout contact”
  1. iamtalkingsolistenandlearn says: May 15, 2011 11:54 AM

    So Belicheat is “misinterpeting” the rules again?

    Patriots fans will no doubt resort to the standard battle cry;
    “But everyone is doing it!!”

  2. friendlylittletrees says: May 15, 2011 11:55 AM

    Maybe we should start investigating the LACK OF CONTACT between the NFLPA and the NFL…

    This is a joke… The whole lockout is garbage.

    From a fans perspective – why do we not protest or raise hell?…

    BECAUSE WE HAVE JOBS that require us to SHOW UP EVERY DAY!

  3. MCxShow says: May 15, 2011 12:02 PM

    Report: Bill Belichick is talking to his players via video chat.

  4. clayjayhawk says: May 15, 2011 12:14 PM

    Why don’t they spend time investigating getting a deal done? Then none of this bull-crap would matter.

  5. CKL says: May 15, 2011 12:18 PM

    There’s “cheating” that needs to be cleaned up and punished and removed from the league and “cheating” that’s something that many competitive entities do (and have done since the league began) to a certain extent. That’s one thing about Tags, I think he “got” that while Goodell’s regime doesn’t.

  6. hawkeye6 says: May 15, 2011 12:25 PM

    Well, what areas of the planet are designated for coaches only, and what areas are designated for players only? We don’t want them to bump into each other.

    Also do NFL representatives frequent these areas, because maybe they can bump into the players and they can fix this mess?

  7. willycents says: May 15, 2011 12:38 PM

    I agree. Investigate all these reports of contact. Then, punish all individuals concerned with banishment from employment with the league for a set period, say 2- 5 years. INCLUDE the “partners”(players) who are involved in this allegedly grievious practice. After all, rules are meant to be followed so that all are treated equally. Include perhaps sanctions on the teams/partners of not allowing them to participate in any post season events. By God, teach those lo-life cheaters a lesson.

    That way, the sports columnists can be satisfied and we will not need a new cba because there will be no one to participate in the NFL /sarcasm

  8. mattyc says: May 15, 2011 12:39 PM

    Well, Mike, I must disagree. Though it was not widely publicized in the media & not made much of a deal about, weren’t the Browns fined $50,000 for inappropriate contact in March?

    So, obviously they have already made one example, though not taking away draft picks or anything of the sort. Nonetheless, it is still a recognizable punishment & “example made” of a team “CHEATING”.

    More towards the point of your blurb, the NFL is going to have a hard time punishing teams for contacting players, aka “CHEATING”. The league & the shamwow union are cheating its business partners, affiliates, sponsors, season ticket/PSL owners, Sunday Ticket subscribers, US Cities, the court system, fantasy football sites & players, broadcasting stations, & the most obvious…… FANS. Are we really to be outraged by the team staffs, whose pay was just cut due to the ignorance of the league as a whole, for contacting players to assist them in preperation for the season? I think the only Cheaters in the grand scheme of it all is the Owners, the Players UNION, & each of their complete teams that keep this process ongoing.

  9. grpatriot says: May 15, 2011 12:39 PM

    It’s a stupid rule, but not as stupid as this lockout/ work stoppage! A case could be made that these kids are being denied employment which seems a hell of a lot worse to me.
    Wink and a nod investigation is the way to go!
    Technically there is no NFLPA, so go pound sand azzclowns..

  10. detroitkillas says: May 15, 2011 12:46 PM

    I hope all teams are doing this atleast..No harm is done..—–GET THE DEAL DONE players/owners… We want our football back now!!

  11. GG Eden says: May 15, 2011 12:57 PM

    and to otherwise find a way to look the other way when it comes to tampering or other violations of the rules that technically amount to cheating.

    or a slap on the wrist and burning of damning evidence that would’ve warranted greater punishments…..when Goodell and Kraft are close friends.

  12. FinFan68 says: May 15, 2011 1:25 PM

    I understand the lockout/decert/anti-trust litigation strategies but some of the “rules” seem absurd. I can understand not allowing coaches to “force” players to show up to “unofficial” practices or whatever, but what is wrong with a coach and player having contact? What is the harm in giving a playbook to a player already on the roster? I think there is nothing wrong with player/coach/trainer communication as long as it does not require the player to “work” or it does not involve talking about contracts/roster spots/labor issues.

  13. telergy says: May 15, 2011 1:42 PM

    Youre not trying if youre not cheating

  14. billinlouisiana says: May 15, 2011 1:53 PM

    grpatriot says:
    May 15, 2011 12:39 PM
    It’s a stupid rule, but not as stupid as this lockout/ work stoppage! A case could be made that these kids are being denied employment

    They aren’t being denied employment. They are perfectly free to “retire” and use their college education to go get a real job!

  15. Rhode Island Patriots Fan says: May 15, 2011 1:54 PM

    @ iamtalkingsolistenandlearn—Perhaps you should consider doing less talking and more listening so that you can learn—in spite of yourself. Just last month’s individual Power Rankings unanimously ranked Belichick as No. 1, the NFL’s best head coach. And it wasn’t even close. While mature NFL fans certainly may not like Belichick, they’re honest enough to admit he ranks as the best, even over the likes of Tomlin, Reid, McCarthy and Payton.

  16. lovesportsandsurfing says: May 15, 2011 2:49 PM

    The NFL WILL come down on any franchise that has the audacity to talk to one of its employees,…listen one more time, there will be no NFL in 2011, chance…and the league has known this for three years, I have.

  17. iamtalkingsolistenandlearn says: May 15, 2011 2:52 PM

    Rhode Island Patriots Whiner says:

    “Just last month’s individual Power Rankings unanimously ranked Belichick as No. 1, the NFL’s best head coach.”


    Oh my gosh!! I am so sorry. How dare I question the wisdom and knowledge of the football God’s at ESPN. If ESPN’s rankings says it is so, then it must be. Please forgive me.

    Now please get up from under Belicheats desk and wipe your chin off.

  18. hawkeye6 says: May 15, 2011 2:54 PM

    @Rhode Island Patriots Fan

    Not that I’d like to debate that Belichick isn’t one of the best coaches in the league, and perhaps the aforementioned post was a bit too much, but ESPN is hardly a source to rank anyone – especially when it’s opinion based. Fact is, other coaches have won Superbowls after BB did, and he hasn’t done anything of significance in the playoffs lately.

    That being said, I’d hire him in a second – just that he’s not the most successful coach in the last 8 years or so (are we going by overall wins, or Superbowl victories?).

    I’d also like to add that, anyone who accuses the Patriots of cheating should look at their own clubs. 1 of 32 isn’t the only team that potentially “cheats”. I’m sure Rex Ryan has spoken to Sanchez and company since the lockout has begun.

    Just my opinions.

  19. vahawker says: May 15, 2011 3:53 PM

    grpatriot…”A case could be made that these kids are being denied employment ”

    No one is stopping them from getting a job, let them go out and pound the pavement like so many others who have been out of work for for a year or more.

  20. Rhode Island Patriots Fan says: May 15, 2011 6:09 PM

    @hawkeye6—My compliments on your intelligent reply. I didn’t mean to suggest that ESPN is the exclusive or sole authority here—they’re not. I could just as easily have pointed to countless other sources, including one Rex Ryan, head coach of the NY Jets, who in a May 6, 2011 New York Post story referred to Belichick as “…the best coach that I’ve ever seen.”

    My opinion is simply that regardless of the yardstick used to measure overall success—SB wins, championship wins, regular or postseason record, 3x AP NFL Coach of the Year, 5x SB Champion, All-Decade Team, etc.—any objective observer would be hard pressed to argue that Belichick is NOT No. 1.

  21. freedomispopular says: May 15, 2011 9:53 PM

    It’s only cheating if you get caught.

  22. iamtalkingsolistenandlearn says: May 15, 2011 10:02 PM

    Rhode Island Idiot says:

    “I could just as easily have pointed to countless other sources, including one Rex Ryan, head coach of the NY Jets,”


    Oh so now instead of thinking one should go along with those geniuses at ESPN and buy into what their oh so accurate rankings say, I should now buy into and believe what Rex Ryan says??

    Rex Ryan !!! The guy that predicts a Super Bowl appearance every year? The guy that votes his team the best in the league week in and week out?
    The guy with a foot fetish? The guy who said he hated Verne Ghoulton and thought he was a “phoney” coming out of college, but once he became Verne’s coach he became one of Rex’s own??

    You are really stretching your mouth open wide for Belicheat aren’t you?

  23. deadmanwalking47 says: May 16, 2011 10:26 AM

    what are they gonna do to the violators? put them on double secret probation?

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