Even during the lockout, the weekdays often entail a blur of activity. On Saturdays and Sundays, we try to catch anything that we may have overlooked.
When it comes to the report from Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com that assistant coaches have been contacting players during the lockout, we missed the follow up from Clark Judge of CBSSports.com regarding the league’s decision to investigate.
It all sounds good on paper (assuming anything actually is printed on paper anymore), but unless and until the league catches someone and publicly takes action we won’t believe that the league actually intends to take the situation seriously. Though there’s a chance that the league will make some unlucky team the sacrificial lamb on this issue, the truth is that the practice likely has become too widespread to permit a fair and even-handed enforcement.
Indeed, our NBC colleague Rodney Harrison told PFT Live earlier this week that he knows that coaches and players are talking. “Are you kidding me? Whether it’s a cousin’s cell phone, calling someone up, that’s all part of it. . . . You gotta be crazy if you don’t think that’s happening,” Harrison said. “I won’t say who, but I know there is communication going on.”
It’s hardly an isolated incident at this point. So how can the NFL punish one coach or team and not all who are breaking the rules?
It can’t happen, and it won’t happen. Like so many other forms of cheating, the NFL has nothing to gain and plenty to lose by letting the media, the fans, and ultimately Congress conclude that the sport is littered with cheaters. As a result, the league prefers to make a periodic example out of a team that was reckless and/or brash in its cheating, and to otherwise find a way to look the other way when it comes to tampering or other violations of the rules that technically amount to cheating.