League tight-lipped on lockout contact fines

AP

The NFL won’t say much about our report that three teams have been fined for having contact with players during the lockout.  The NFL will say that the Titans weren’t one of the three teams.

And here’s where it gets confusing.  The source for our initial report was unequivocal that two of the three teams were the Buccaneers and the Titans.  And, without disclosing the source, we’ll say that the source is impeccable, and in a clear position to know the truth.

In fact, the source was appropriately careful with the information.  Since the source wasn’t 100 percent certain about the identity of the third team, we didn’t identify the team that the source believes to be the third team.

As a result, we’ve got a dilemma.  Do we retract the report as it relates to the Titans in blind reliance on the Titans’ and the league’s public denial that the Titans were fined?  The fact that the league refuses to identify any of the three teams that were fined (and we are 100 percent certain that three teams were fined) makes it impossible to rule out any of the 32 teams in the league.

Then there’s the fact that Titans receiver Kenny Britt has said that he heard from receivers coach Dave Ragone during the lockout.  Given that the Buccaneers were fined for identical conduct involving coach Raheem Morris and multiple players, it would be a shock if the Titans weren’t fined.

So, in the end, we’ll simply present what we know.  We know that we have an impeccable source with knowledge of the situation who says that the Titans were one of the three teams.  We know that the Titans deny it, and that the league agrees with the Titans.  We also know that the league won’t identify the three fined teams, and that Britt already has outed the Titans as violating the lockout rules in the same way that one of the fined teams, the Bucs, violated the lockout rules.

The league has been extremely reluctant to say anything about this situation, ever since Charley Casserly of CBS first reported 12 days ago that the Bucs will be fined.  Given that the league apparently doesn’t want to draw any unnecessary attention to the notion that three teams were caught cheating during the lockout (and that, possibly, 29 others cheated but didn’t get caught), we doubt that there will be any further information divulged.

In contrast, the league has no qualms about announcing to the free world any and all pertinent information regarding a player who has been fined or suspended.  And that’s troubling.  If the league and the teams are committed to secrecy regarding discipline imposed against teams, there’s no way that anyone will ever know with certainty that a team has done something wrong.