For committing a blatant violation of the offseason workout rules, the NFL imposed more than $480,000 in fines against the Ravens and coach John Harbaugh and stripped the team of a week of Organized Team Activities. For some fans (i.e., Patriots fans), that wasn’t enough.
Patriots fans, for good reason, wanted to see the Ravens lose a draft pick or two for putting putting players in pads during rookie minicamp, in blatant violation of the rules regarding offseason workouts.
Here’s why it didn’t happen. Under Article 21, Section 8(d)(ii), a second violation in the same league year results in the forfeiture of a fourth-round draft pick. For the first violation in a given league year, no draft picks are taken.
Still, some Patriots fans would point out that the NFL could ignore the offseason workout rules and impose whatever penalty the league wants to impose in the interests of promoting and preserving the integrity of the game. Some would say that’s precisely what the NFL did in the #Deflategate case, ignoring the rules regarding equipment violations and imposing far stricter penalties.
It wouldn’t have been that difficult, if the league had decided to hammer the Ravens. The argument would have been that the use of pads during offseason workouts is so grossly beyond the scope of what is and isn’t permitted that the blatant use of pads justifies much more serious penalties.
The fact that the league didn’t do it doesn’t mean the league couldn’t have done it, if the league had wanted to do it. Which continues to be the basis for Patriots’ fans loudest complaints in the aftermath of #Deflategate.