Lockout will unlock a new universe of cheating

While we were all watching the end of the Packers-Bears game on Sunday, Charley Casserly of CBS was sharing highly pertinent information about the manner in which teams can prepare for the 2011 season.

Though Casserly didn’t say it, the application of common sense to his message quickly leads to an inescapable conclusion.  To be best prepared after what many believe will be an inevitable lockout, teams need to be prepared to cheat effectively.

In the strike-shortened seasons of 1982 and 1987, the Redskins (for whom Casserly worked at the time) won the Super Bowl.  Casserly explained that coach Joe Gibbs reminded the players that they needed to stay together as a team, and he had them engage in organized practices on their own.  Given that these things happened long before the days of cell-phone cameras, the immediacy of both supply and demand of the 24-hour news cycle, and the Internet, it would be foolish to assume that neither the Redskins nor any other teams engaged in workouts that were directly or indirectly supervised by members of the coaching staff.

This time around, Casserly says that one prominent quarterback has been scouting facilities that he and his teammates can use for player-organized practices.  Another coach gave his players at their final meeting “very organized practice plans for workouts and passing camps that they can do in the offseason.”

None of that constitutes cheating.  Before the lockout, communications between coaches and players are permissible.  (That said, Casserly overstated reality a bit by proclaiming that teams can “do anything you want before March 4.”  There can be no workouts or practices or anything that otherwise would constitute work.)

After March 4, there can be no contact between players and coaches.  Per Casserly, the NFL said that teams will be disciplined “very severely” if violations occur.

But let’s be realistic.  Violations will occur.  Surely, coaches and key players already have begun securing secret cell phones for the sole purpose of talking to each other about offseason workouts that can’t directly be supervised by the coaches.  The team that’s most effective in this regard will be the best prepared to compete for and win the Super Bowl when football resumes.

One of the key components will be the presence of a strong, trusting relationship between the coach and the starting quarterback, who undoubtedly will be relied upon to organize the unorganized practices, and to discreetly report back to the coaching staff regarding progress.  In this regard, teams like the Patriots, Jets, Steelers, Ravens, Colts, Chargers, Giants, Packers, Falcons, and Saints likely will have an edge.  In other cities, coaches will have to identify other team leaders who can be trusted to organize the practices, to preside over them, and to communicate with the coaching staff on a double-secret basis.

Though, as Casserly also pointed out, plenty of quarterbacks are involved in the labor effort, all quarterbacks are smart enough to know they’ll eventually have to play and compete on the field with other quarterbacks and teams.  Their own desire to win could compel them to adopt a dual existence that will entail talking tough about league-union issues while also facilitating a violation of the rules that will apply to the individual teams during the labor battle.

It’s all the more reason for the two sides to work this thing out before things happen that will further expose to the football-following world the reality that plenty of coaches, teams, and players live by the time-honored maxim, “If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’.”

42 responses to “Lockout will unlock a new universe of cheating

  1. “New Universe” – Yea, real new. Every high school in America does ‘player’ organized practices in the summer to get around these types of regulation.

  2. So if a bunch of co-workers organize some two hand touch football it is cheating? I would say if the coach is there running the game then it would be cheating but lets be real, no one in their right mind considers grown men playing a pick up game of football on their own free time cheating. Of course you can twist and turn it into anything you want, as you have here.

  3. I guess Sirius radio, Profootballtalk and Peter King will have something to talk about then…even during a work stoppage.

  4. Who gives a rats behind if a bunch of teammates decide to spend portions of their offseason working out together, chucking the ball around, etc. I wouldn’t label that as cheating by any stretch of the imagination.

    They are adults, they can do what they want, when they want to do it…if they want to play football together, it’s up to them. If your team doesn’t have enough competent leaders that can try and get something useful out of these unofficial practices, then that’s your organization’s fault. If anything, it’ll make the team members closer, everyone will be accountable, etc. The only worry would be in case of injury. They’ll have to consider that…depending on how intense these practices are.

    I don’t see what the big deal is in the grand scheme of things.

  5. This, more than anything, explains how Norv Turner managed to keep his job. But like everyone else, I fail to see the problem. The players aren’t the ones seeking the lockout. They want to play. And if they’re willing to work without pay to ensure their teams succeed when they come back, that only benefits the owners.

  6. This day in age, the NFL should want the players to stay in shape so that there products do not get out of shape and injured by week 1. This is all just non-sense.

  7. Why would the Jets have an edge because of the QB position?
    If it wasn’t for Sanchez being the weakest part of the team, they would be getting ready for the Superbowl right now.
    Sanchez sucks

  8. lhaveprettyfeet says:
    Jan 25, 2011 9:25 AM
    Can you imagine how much the Patriots will cheat?

    Yea, and the…
    Bears, Bengals, Bills, Browns, Cardinals, Cowboys, Eagles, etc…. you get (I THINK)!!

  9. Life in American…cheating is a highly sought after value.

    Whether you’re a politician, a businessman or a preacher life is always easier if you cheat and lie.

  10. But this already happens – the Jets were caught earlier in the year when Schottenheimer attended the “jets west” camp. Of course, all was denied, and the league did little more than saber rattle.

  11. Brian Duper says:
    Jan 25, 2011 9:27 AM
    “New Universe” – Yea, real new. Every high school in America does ‘player’ organized practices in the summer to get around these types of regulation.
    What high school players do in the summer is not even remotely the same as the NFL players. No comparison what so ever! High school teams aren’t watched or followed by millions of people and every media outlet! Millions or even Billions of dollars aren’t at stake and they aren’t regulated by one league like the NFL! Plus, high school football is more for fun and is not nearly as serious as the NFL! Even in towns where high school football is at it’s most popular, it still doesn’t compare!

  12. that part doesn’t matter! it’s after they come back, is the league going to get the what 4-5 billion tv revenue! think again idiot owners

  13. Well, the Patriots are going to have an issue if this is the case. Wasn’t Brady in SoCal and NYC (or, as Felger says, Fashion Week in Milan) all offseason last year? It’s going to be hard to organize practices in the Boston/Providence area from 3,000 miles away, especially while he’s going to be recovering from foot surgery for a while.

  14. A really dumbass article. How can there be cheating if there is no CBA? Once the CBA expires, there are no rules at all. The real cheating may include PED cycles that are no longer monitored or punished.

  15. Honestly….who cares if guys get together during the lockout? If there’s a lockout and there’s no CBA then it’s not against any rules. It’s simply a smart thing to do. Non issue.

    Open your books, NFL. The league has never been more profitable and you’re crying the blues about the economy and the fans financial plight? You haven’t lowered a price on a single thing from tickets to merchandise (or those pesky pre-season tickets). I’m with the players all the way on this. I pray for a lockout. The NFL needs taken down a few pegs.

  16. Nice…and all eyes turn to the Patriots for tips and strategies.

    (I wonder if Rosenthal will delete this post as well)

  17. this is a non-story. why wouldnt these players WANT to get some sort of practice plan in place this year?

    all of this stuff is a bunch of BS anyway. if these guys are setting up “illegal” practices their goal in doing so will be striving to win football games (games people, GAMES), not overthrowing the government.

    i understand its a multi-billion dollar business, but lets give it a rest when talking about the “legalities” of a bunch of guys practicing a freaking sport….jeez.

  18. The NFL is a multi-million dollar business, does anyone truly expect “businessmen” to adhere to the rules!!!

    Are politicians honest?

    Are some college football players paid?

    Is there one rule for the wealthy another for the poor?

    Tell us something we don’t know.

  19. One things for sure, we are gonna need a lottery hit to pay for our tickets when this is over. Isn’t it the fan who always pays???

  20. So will Chris Snee be allowed to have dinner with his father-in-law?



  21. How is a group of players and coaches trying to work out and get better “cheating”? Man that word gets thrown around way too much here…

    If an offensive lineman holds a guy and it isn’t called, is that “cheating” or breaking a rule? Seems like it’s whatever you want it to be on this site…

  22. It would also unlock a new universe of whining and complaining from the whiniest fanbase in all of sports.

  23. Well if this is the case, why even play the season. Just hand the trophy to New England. Everybody knows no one cheats like the Pats. Actually no one cheats but the Pats.

  24. Turn your eyes to the Pats, indeed, because we’re ahead of schedule in our “rebuilding”.

    Cheating or no, you’re going to be violated next year if there’s football. And no amount of whiny, drippy sniffling (ihaveprettyfeet, drexelvol) will prevent it.

  25. Does this mean the Redskins 1982 & 1987 Super Bowl seasons deserve and asterisk?

    Signed, Patriots Fan.

  26. Every middle school high school and college does this every year.

    NCAA has rules on off season contact so the team caps hold events with the players.

    This has been happening for as long as I can remember

    Hell college coaches line there teams up to play in summer leagues in Baseball and Soccer so the kids stay together the team is coached by a parent or someone who knows the coach

    I do know this to be true yes I do because i was a parent coach of a summer college team hell we even kept the name minus the school name

  27. Man that word gets thrown around way too much here…


    Well it’s true when it comes to the Patriots. Busted and heavily sanctioned for 6+ years of cheating. FACT. Sorry if that upsets you.

  28. @ stixidinia

    You are rapidly becoming one of the most insufferably lame posters here.

    Obsessed with the Patriots much?

  29. i think it isnt cheating. this is called being smart. make the stoppage work for u.


    It says that IF the coaches and players have a dialogue after a certain date, then it would constitute cheating. Casserly is saying that this is bound to happen. His opinion.

    I agree. IF the players organize these get togethers on their own, then no problem. But, seriously, does anyone think the players can secure a practice facility, organize practice times, and practices without the aid of coaches?

    If you do, then no one has watched a pick up basketball game where there are no arguments either, right?

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