As the name “Bruce Arians” begins to bubble up on the list of potential head-coaching candidates (the Steelers are still waiting for him to retire), the man who currently is serving as the interim head coach of the Colts arguably needs to brush up on some of the rules that apply to folks who speak publicly about football matters.
And, more specifically, about football players who are under contract with other franchises.
“I’d love to have him on my team,” said Arians regarding Lions defensive tackle Ndamukon Suh. “I like the way he plays. He plays aggressive, hard, fast and physical.”
Since Suh remains two years away from free agency, it’s not tampering in the classic sense. But it could be tampering in the literal sense.
The league’s anti-tampering policy prohibits “[a]ny public or private statement of interest, qualified or unqualified, in another club’s player . . . to a member of the news media.” The policy includes this specific example of a forbidden statement: “He’s an excellent player, and we’d very much like to have him if he were available, but another club holds his rights.”
The league has declined comment on whether Arians’ comments violate the anti-tampering policy.
Though far more troubling violations occur, it’s rare that any coach or G.M. says something that so clearly falls within the confines of what the policy prohibits. Though it arguably wouldn’t be fair to punish the Colts for a fairly innocuous comment, the rule says what it says. If the league’s not going to enforce the policy as written, the league needs to change the policy.