Niners should insist on tampering investigation

Last year, the San Francisco 49ers received a knuckle-rapping from the league office based on communications with agent Drew Rosenhaus regarding a contract extension for linebacker Lance Briggs, at a time when the Bears and 49ers were engaged in trade discussions regarding the franchise player who was playing under a one-year contract that by rule couldn’t have been extended until after the season ended.

The Niners had every right to believe that they were screwed.  Tampering runs rampant in the NFL, usually without consequence.  By periodically busting one of the 32 teams for it, however, the league office can create the appearance that it cares about the pervasive problem of off-field cheating via franchises putting visions of signing bonuses in the heads of players not happy with their current contracts and, as a result, their current teams.

And now the Niners apparently are the victims of tampering.

Deion Sanders of NFL Network proclaimed during a Friday night on-air segment with Rich Eisen that two teams were interested in trading for the rights to 49ers wideout Michael Crabtree — and were willing to pay the holdout wideout a contract worth $40 million.

Specifically, Sanders said that the unnamed teams “will pay this kid, and he knows that.”

The 49ers responded, according to Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News, with an unequivocal denial:  “Those discussions never occurred.”

So if the 49ers didn’t talk with teams interested in trading for Crabtree, there’s only one way that Crabtree became aware of the situation:  The teams talked directly to Crabtree or his agent about their willingness to trade for, and then to pay, Crabtree.

The problem is that neither the Niners nor the league know who the teams are.

But Deion does.  And he’s an employee of the league. 

So the approach here is simple.  The 49ers should demand that Commissioner Roger Goodell demand that Deion spill his guts about the teams that supposedly were willing to do a trade-and-pay deal for Crabtree.  If Deion declines, then Deion moves on to the pursuit of other interests.

The Niners also should express concern to the league regarding whether a business relationship exists between Sanders and Parker.  Though there’s presently no evidence that they are anything other than agent and former client, the NFL should want to know whether Deion was merely expressing his views when he talked about the Crabtree situation on Total Access, or whether Deion was carrying water for Parker and, in turn, for Crabtree.

If it’s the latter, it’s a pretty good arrangement for Parker.  He can continue to keep his head low and his mouth closed about the Crabtree negotiations, and Parker can rely upon others, like Deion, to get the word out.

Bottom line?  The 49ers should be livid about this situation.  If they’re not, then they need to get out of the football business and open a chain of flower shops, or something.

30 responses to “Niners should insist on tampering investigation

  1. That’s all fine Mike. But you’re assuming there are actually teams willing to trade for an pay Crabtree $40 million. Don’t you think it’s more likely that either Parker or whoever Deion’s source is, or Deion himself is making up this story about teams willing to trade for Crabtree and pay that price.

  2. And here is the problem with a League owned channel that covers League news. Are they journalists who should not disclose their sources? Or will they be forced to cough up their sources anytime the League decides they have to? Doing so could have a chilling effect on news reporting about the NFL.
    Yeah, it ain’t national security. But, it could go to the integrity of the game that the public should be aware of. But, will anyone talk if they know they will be exposed? The League may not want the public to know to protect their image so may try to shut the source up. Which ismore likely without journalistic protections.

  3. Had precisely the same reaction to Sanders comments yesterday. The Niners have a strong case, if this is accurate. Given the way it was portrayed, I believe it so. Sanders conduct here is shameful. He should be terminated by the NFL Channel for being a conduit.
    As to Crabtree & his agent, they are overplaying their hand. Aside from the time/value of money, they need to reread the regs governing holdouts & their complete lack of leverage until the day prior to the next draft in 4/10. It costs SF nothing to be punative at this juncture. All this for an underclassman who, frankly, hasn’t demonstrated a great deal other than an appaling lack of judgement.

  4. Amen Mike. I saw this story on NFL Network Friday night it’s been eating away at me. It just seems so strange. Wouldn’t it make sense for the NFL to question Deion anyway sense he’s a employee of the NFL? This entire thing is very suspicious. I wouldn’t surprised if Cowboys and Redskins were the two teams. If it’s these two teams(I’m a redskins fan) or any other team I think they should be fined heavily. 2 First Round Draft picks and fined heavily.

  5. Yeah, right. Deion is employed as a JOURNALIST by the league. If he breaks a confidential source no one in the league will ever tell him ANYTHING ever again. Or for that matter anyone employed as a journalist by the NFL network.
    You didn’t think that one out Florio?

  6. How about this..
    Rename the NFL to NO FRIGGIN LAWYERS!
    This kind of moronic ambulance chasing is typical of Florio. Who else would listen to these media blowhards like Dion other than other wannabe media blowhards who are trying to find scandal whether it exists or not.

  7. serves the niners right ..wasn’t it them who payed players under the table in the superbowl years ?

  8. Neon needs to learn how to shut his yapper and leave idiot wr draft picks alone. It would be nice to see this play out.

  9. I am in agreement with you on this one Mike, but the NFL has already stated that they will not look into tampering issues in regards to this situation, which is wrong.
    I am not trying to sound like a whiney Niners fan here but given the way that the league came down on them with the Lance Briggs thing when every other team has done it makes you wonder what the heck is really going on…

  10. Tampering should be illegal. I is so unfair for SF to have to bid against anyone for a player they already own the rights to.
    What is his problem. Shut up and play. He should be willing to do it for free since so many chuckle head fans would give a kidney to play one down in the NFL. Right?
    No team has to come out and say they would pay him more than Sf is offering. That is almost common sense. 41 TDs is 41 touchdowns. Teams that do not tend to pick near the top 10 could care less about the slotting system. If they had him scouted as a top 6 player, he is a value at 7th pick money.
    The price of the 5th pick vs the 7th pick is not some sort of set formula. You can get what you can take depending on how much leverage you have. The rules in place that prevent trading picks once camp starts, they can not be tampered with, and so on seem like something that was dreamed up in the USSR.
    All draft picks should be restricted free agents. If the team that took the rights is not willing to pay them what some other team is, they should only get a comparable pick plus a bonus pick 2 rounds lower than the pick in question.
    If a team is willing to give Crabtree 40 mil and SF a 1st and a 3rd, what is the logic behind preventing that from happening? Players put in a lot of work and take a lot of risk to become eligible for the draft, but depending on who takes them and when, that is what they are worth? It does not really work out that way. You can go back to last year and if the draft was done over again, it would never look anything like it did that day. Some guys taken in the top 15 may not get drafted at all and some guys in the 4th round would have been top 15 picks.
    It is ridicuolus all the way around. Do not hate the player hate the game. Crabtree is just doing what he can do to make a legal buck. Get off his nutz.

  11. every other team has done it? Got anything remotely resembling proof to back up that blanket statement?

  12. Anybody want to wager that Jerry Jones told Sanders that he’d take Crabtree in the 1st Round Next year — and pay him well?
    That’s what the Crab camp wants: To stay in Dallas, catch passes from Romo, and stick it to the 49ers.
    Tampering…. big time.
    And East Coast Bias at its worst…

  13. Why should the 49ers pursue a tampering investigation? It would just jeopardize a potential deal. Of course, Deion could simply be lying, but if there really are two teams out there willing to pay Crabtree $40 million, then it’s a no-lose situation for the 49ers. Crabtree either signs with the 49ers (after which they could launch a tampering investigation if they want), or the 49ers trade him before the draft (once they are legally able to) for another first-round pick (plus change). That would give the team THREE first-round picks in 2010!

  14. Since Sanders knows…one of the teams is the cowboys. No surprise there.
    And yes, Sanders is “getting it out there” for Crabtree. No surprise there either.

  15. Gbzealot and nflhof, I agree with u guys.
    Who’s the biggest idiot, deion, crabtree, or the agent?
    I’m gonna go with the agent

  16. Tampering schmampering, tell us how much you hate Brett Favre. I haven’t seen one post about him yet today. I’m starting to think you’re under the weather.

  17. This kind of “journalism” can’t be tolerated. The 49ers get screwed by stuff like this. Even if no teams exist, Deon Sanders was wrong to even say this. If these teams do exist, then both Deon was wrong and there are tampering problems. I’d say Deon should be fired/moved to another job to send a clear message that this won’t be tolerated.

  18. AutumnWind999 says:
    September 6, 2009 10:58 AM
    That’s all fine Mike. But you’re assuming there are actually teams willing to trade for an pay Crabtree $40 million. Don’t you think it’s more likely that either Parker or whoever Deion’s source is, or Deion himself is making up this story about teams willing to trade for Crabtree and pay that price.
    That’s why there needs to be an investigation. The league needs to find out what, if anything did happen. If something did, they need to find out exactly who, what, when and where this all went down. If nothing did, then they need to find out why Deion would say it did.
    Unless permission is granted by the 49ers, they are the only team who can discuss employment and make deals with Crabtree and his agent. And since teams don’t generally reach out to guys just to say, “What’s up?” no one else has the right to even be talking to him or his people about him.
    As for Sanders, he needs to go. Now. Judging by his comments, it’s obvious tampering has taken place. By admitting to having direct knowledge of the situation and then broadcasting it over the air, he’s now complicit in this violation of league rules. League personnel should not be allowed to aid and abet a violation of league rules, which is essentially what Sanders did with his broadcast.
    But, since the league probably isn’t going to take action against Sanders, at the very least they should prohibit him from speaking out publicly on this topic ever again. This should include speaking to any media, writing on a blog, or even posting about this topic on Twitter. The league should also force him to admit the details about what he knows. Basically, as a league employee, he needs to come clean.
    Disclaimer- I’m not a 49ers fan. In fact, I can’t stand them. However, as a fan, if this crap happened with my team I would be livid.

  19. “Anybody want to wager that Jerry Jones told Sanders that he’d take Crabtree in the 1st Round Next year — and pay him well? ”
    Well, if that’s the case, Crabtree will certainly be a top five pick in 2010…

  20. Deion said the exact same thing about “Trabtree” three weeks ago during an interview with a local sports radio station in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. He mentioned during that interview that the Cowboys were NOT one of the clubs he was making reference to. Anyone with half a brain sees this as more BS than anything and an attempt to carry the torch for Eugene Parker and Trabtree, who he identifies as “one of his boys”.

  21. Pfffffft. Are we really arguing ethics here? Seriously?
    This is the NFL. The same league that just re-instated a convicted gambler. As a quarterback!! And we’re going to talk ethics? The NFL permanently lost the right to talk ethics as soon as they fell all over themselves to put a CONVICTED FELON back in the game and profit from his infamy.
    The NFL has less integrity than MLB (which has always maintained consistency in it’s lifetime bans for gambling), and it would be just as laughable if the WWE went around complaining about professional integrity. The NFL has ZERO integrity. None.
    It all comes down to simple dollars and cents. The only punitive action that will ever be taken by the NFL will be ones that do not harm the bottom line.
    I’ve begun to use what little political weight I have to pressure my congressman and senator to revoke the anti-trust exemption granted to the NFL due to it’s outrageous lack of ethics shown since Goodell became commish. The NFL has become the biggest sham in pro sports. Even the UFC has better ethics (known gamblers are banned for life, for obvious reasons).
    As long as Vick plays in the NFL, any talk of integrity or ethics is a joke. Games can be thrown and you can bet for sure the multiple-billion dollar gambling industry already has it’s hands in the pot. Why not? So far, the NFL has embraced gamblers and gambling. Sadly, as long as Goodell heads the NFL, we should all just assume the games are just as fixed as pro-wrestling.
    Goodell will be the best thing that ever happened for MLS, as fans who tire of watching boring, fixed games full of heinously bad calls and obvious favoritism (see: SuperBowl XL) migrate to sports that are not run by and for organized criminals and gamblers. You know, actual real-life sports rather than the corporate profit-driven WWE-style nonsense that is Goodell’s NFL.

  22. If the argument is made that the NFL lost credibility for reinstating a gambler, then that happened in 1964, with Paul Hornung and Alex Karras, whose suspensions for gambling were indefinite when levied, then revisited later. Both players missed an entire season, only to play again the following year.
    As regards the NFL’s anti-trust “exemption” (an exemption in name only, since any threat as to its removal effectively serves the same function as the provisions of the Sherman Act themselves), I maintain that Congress should repeal the Sherman Antitrust Act, the single most disastrous, unconstitutional, economy-wrecking, liberty-destroying piece of legislation ever made in this nation. It is illogical to accuse the NFL of orchestrating competition, then suggest the remedy is for the US Congress to orchestrate competition. Such an attitude reveals the position that fixing games is fine, as long as the US Government, and not the NFL, is doing the fixing.
    The need for a tampering investigation in this case would seem obvious, but the issue I’m interested in is that the potential of the NFL Network to serve as a house organ has been raised here before. Why warn against that, then demand that Sanders reveal his source? What exactly is PFT’s editorial policy about the NFL Network’s status? Is it that the NFL Network is a Stars & Stripes-type operation with editorial independence (and perhaps in great need of a strong ombudsman in the league office, much as S&S has in Congress), or is it that the NFL Network is essentially a house organ that can double as a spy organization on behalf of the owners and the league?
    Is the desire to see Sanders talk or walk part of a systemic assault on the profession of journalism, a profession which PFT is a vibrant part of, whether PFT likes it or not?

  23. Reminds me of the Florio of old. Great post Mike! Agreed with everything except I doubt the league can demand he spill the beans…that would discredit them as a journalistic entity (even though they run the league). The NFL should focus more on Deion using his platform for ulterior interests and drag his ass to a third-tier job or fire him. If it’s all true of course.

  24. Florio, you raise an excellent point. Who is communicating with Crabtree with these offers?
    It wouldn’t surprise me though if Sanders’ sources were full of baloney.

  25. Don’t forget that Crabtree trained at Deion’s Prime U facility.
    Deion was one of the greatest athletic talents ever to play in the NFL, but he lacks in intelligence what he possessed in athletics.

  26. Hey Nick you may want to invest in a map Dallas in not on the east coast they just play in the East
    Texas is located in the south Central Portion of the Country so get your head out of your butt and read a map

  27. no team is going to give Crabtree $40M guaranteed.
    i’m glad he thinks that though. he can hold out until next year, he will re-enter the draft, fall to a much later round, and he can bitch about a six-figure contract.
    if any team IS willing to pay him $40M, then that team deserves the stigma & poor record they’ll have by offering that much $$ to a guy who hasn’t even caught an NFL pass.
    hype. gotta love it.

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