As the great Vincent LaGuardia Gambini once muttered under his breath to Judge Herman Munster, “There’s a f–kin’ surprise.”
Steelers safety Ryan Clark, who if the league office were handing out $100 bills would complain that they aren’t sufficiently crisp, has griped about the punishment imposed on coach Mike Tomlin for his Thanksgiving night side-step right.
Asked by Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review whether Clark believes it’s fair to delay the decision on stripping a draft pick, Clark said: “It’s not supposed to be fair. It’s Roger Goodell. When has he been fair?”
Clark’s disdain for Goodell is preventing him from understanding the fairness inherent in the decision to wait. Taking a pick without knowing where that pick falls could hurt the Steelers, based on how high they finish in the draft order. Thus, the most fair outcome to the Steelers would be to wait for the draft order to be established before deciding how to proceed with the final portion of the penalty, which includes a $100,000 fine for Tomlin.
And that’s exactly what Goodell is doing.
In past cases (such as Spygate and Bountygate), the draft pick forfeiture was specified at the time of the penalty. This provides certainty in the event of potential trades. Once the trade deadline passes, there’s no reason to make a decision about draft-pick forfeiture or modification until the final order is set.
In this regard, modification becomes an intriguing possibility. In tampering cases, the draft-pick penalty included a flip-flopping of picks between the teams involved. Based on where the Steelers and Ravens pick, Pittsburgh may not lose a draft pick; the Steelers may simply have a pick downgraded.
Regardless, the potential modification or forfeiture of draft picks constitutes a significant penalty for the Steelers, far more significant than a six-figure fine. One Steelers source told PFT over the weekend that the team would prefer a one-game suspension of Tomlin to the loss of draft picks.
How big of a deal would it be for the Steelers to lose a late-round pick? Receiver Antonio Brown was a sixth-round pick.