With so much tampering, NFL will struggle to police it all


NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell acknowledged the obvious on Wednesday when he said at the league meeting that multiple teams had dealings before the start of free agency that may have violated the letter of the law.

“We want to make sure no teams are gaining an advantage as it relates to free agency and the opportunity to get free agents,” Goodell said. “There are several teams and several issues that we’re looking at.”

The most-discussed case has been the Jets’ signing of Darrelle Revis after owner Woody Johnson publicly talked about Revis while he was still under contract to the Patriots. But some of the biggest deals signed in free agency — including Ndamukong Suh to Miami and Julius Thomas to Jacksonville — were widely believed to be done deals even before it was legal for NFL teams to get deals done with free agents from other teams.

And that points to why it’s going to be so difficult for the NFL to police tampering: It has become widely acknowledged around the league that it’s commonplace, and although “everyone else is doing it too” might not be an air-tight legal defense, it does raise the question of whether it’s really fair for the NFL to punish some teams for doing things that other teams were surely doing as well.

Maybe Goodell will decide to send a message, make an example of one team, and impose harsh discipline for tampering. Or maybe Goodell will decide that in the grand scheme of things, tampering really isn’t that big a problem, and the league would be better off letting it go.

54 responses to “With so much tampering, NFL will struggle to police it all

  1. I don’t understand why they did the lame duck new rule.

    It’s really simple to fix this. Either get rid of tampering all together, and let agents talk to teams at any time.

    Or, if they still want to keep free agency during a specific time, have the original hard fast rule of no talking before a specific date. Then punish anyone who leaks that they have.

    It’s not hard…

    Unless your Goodell and the NFL, apparently.

  2. Breaking: Goodell puts Woody Johnson and Stephen Ross on the Commissioner’s Exempt List indefinitely.

  3. How can you pick some rules to enforce and not others? Is an under inflated football worse than tampering…are both inconsequential…is one, not the other inconsequential?

    Common sense often makes good law (William O. Douglas)

  4. Are you kidding? If Goodell let’s clear tampering slide because HE doesn’t think it’s a big deal then let’s hear the outcry when HE decides that one ball underflated more than twice 11 others isn’t a big deal either. I want all fans who scream rules are rules to put your money where your mouth is. Is tampering against the rules and if so should there be some kind of consequence for breaking said rule?

  5. Want to stop tampering really quick.

    What if the penalty was first round pick and a 25 million dollar fine (about the average profit most teams make after all expenses are paid) for the team and the agent is suspended from doing business with the NFL for five years. And the player has to sit out the whole season.

  6. We’ll form a committee, task force, focus group, pow wows, and have a town hall meeting to get to the bottom of all this….

    Roger Goodell

  7. Simple, start with the Patriots.
    You can be sure that if anyone is doing it, they’re neck-deep in it.
    It’s not like they don’t have a reputation or anything…

  8. That is cheating, gaining an unfair advantage. Hit them with a 500,000 dollar fine and a 1st round draft pick, and it would deter most from committing.

  9. This is how football stars feel like they can get away with murder, rape, theft, assault at an early age starting in high school and college. Or colleges who push the line and continue to cheat during recruiting or keeping stars eligible. It’s because the higher ups let them get away with it. Give an inch and they’ll take a mile. Same with NFL teams as they’re all looking for the competitive edge. No punishment? Oh well, keep contacting free agents since Roger won’t do anything.

  10. Makes sense this would be the year they decide tampering is no big deal. Patriots opportunity to swap picks with the Jets, goes down the tubes.

  11. The NFL is trying to police a league that is based after a GAME we all loved, stemming from our child hood backyards.

    That is issue #1.

  12. The NFL puts out this rule that you can deal with agents and players for 3 days before the season starts on March 10th but you can’t sign them. They put out this dumb rule and now they call it tampering? Goodell is and always has been a disaster to the NFL. Get over it Roger

  13. NFL enforcer Mike Kensil has hired the firm of Grigson Harbaugh, Pagano, Kravitz, and Mortenson to get to the bottom of things.

  14. If Miami isn’t guilty of tampering with Suh then nobody is guilty of tampering. With a contract that large there is absolutely no way that all the details could be worked-out that quickly. They even postponed the announcement for one day to make it look good – hoping that all of us are that stupid. If the Dolphins don’t get slapped down for this the NFL should never use the word tampering again.

  15. Just go back to the old way where you knew there was tampering but it was hush hush and you didn’t create a window for it to happen.

  16. Remember CameraPlacementGate?

    Remember Goodell stating that it wasn’t the severity of the act that cost the Patriots a 1st rounder – that it was simply being seen to be ‘breaking the rules’?

    How come we are now debating the severity of the offense and not simply punishing the transgression a la CameraPlacementGate?

    Could it be a more obvious double standard?

  17. Remember CameraPlacementGate?

    Remember Goodell stating that it wasn’t the severity of the act that cost the Patriots a 1st rounder – that it was simply being seen to be ‘breaking the rules’?

    How come we are now debating the severity of the offense and not simply punishing the transgression a la CameraPlacementGate?

    Could it be a more obvious double standard????

  18. Jets and Dolphins both engage in blatant tampering, people blame the Patriots. Remember, Patriots Derangement Syndrome is officially a thing.

  19. How come, in that picture, Goodell looks like he is backing up the money truck into his office?

  20. Of course ex-jet employees Goodell and Kensil will let it go– the league office has been persecuting the Patriots over and over and over again, while letting every other team slide. It now seems like there is a concerted effort to stymie the Pats at every turn.(Harbaugh whining… Ball tampering by the vikings…season tanking by the colts… filming by virtually all other teams… concussions to Wilson but it is the Edleman rule etc etc etc). Because Belichick is smarter than all other coaches and the league office combined the jealousy and witch hunts will continue.

  21. Free Agency has a defined period. It allows teams to negotiate with their players exclusively without interference until a date set by the league.

    The Goal Line is not at the 5 yard line, not at the 20 yard line or not at mid field. When the ball crosses the plane its 6 points. It should be clear.

    When a team negotiates a contract prior to the date set by the league, its tampering. There is a penalty. If the league cannot enforce its own rules, then its not a league, it’s a hypocrisy.

    Take Suh going to the Dolphins for instance. Suh met at U of M , home of the Stephen Ross School of Business, (yes the Dolphin’s owner Stephen Ross) with Jim Harbaugh, yes the Jim Harbaugh who Ross knows well and even had overtures about being the next Dolphins coach. This meeting was publicized on Twitter with pics and all on Feb 19th, almost 3 weeks prior to the day teams can even talk to a free agents certified agent.

    So are we honestly to believe that Suh just happened to stop by the Wolverines practice that day in the final weeks of exclusive player and existing team negotiating before free agency period began?

    So what did happen at U of M that day? Well, that is hard to say. What did not happen we surely know. Suh did not sign jerseys for fans, write a donation check to the school, instruct players on Defensive Tackle techniques, enroll for classes in the grad program, or start a scholarship fund in his name…

    What might have happened at U of M on Feb 19th? Did Harbaugh convey interest by the Dolphins? Speak on behalf of what a great owner Stephen Ross is? Get an idea of what Suh is looking for in a potential suitor? Walk Suh into the teleconference room for a private video session or perhaps just to phone a friend for an in house version of “Who wants to be a billionaire?”

    At the time, it didn’t really make sense why Suh was at U of M on Feb 19th. But on Mar 8th, 2 days before teams were allowed to negotiate with agents, ESPN reported that Suh and the Dolphins had a done deal. That’s when it became perfectly clear what happened on Feb 19th.

    As far as I know, the Goal line is still the big fat line after the 1 yard line and I have to wait in line until the box office opens at 10:00 am to get a set of tickets to take my kid to a game and the leagues job is to set and enforce the rules.

    When the tampering is so evidently clear, the NFL needs to do its job. It’s sad when certain teams and owners seem to get their way and bypass the rules in the shadows. Its sad when your team seems to get the butt end of the rules time after time and everyone just shrugs it off.

    We are tired of the excuses, its too tough to police, its too tough to referee the call. That’s why the rules are made and written.

    All the fans ask is that you do your job, Goodell. Sure we know that its hard to tell a billionaire that they did wrong. Its not an easy job. That’s why they are bilionaires. They know how to get their way. They know what they can get away with. They will try to get ahead in every way. That’s what billionaire’s do and they are good at it.

    This is why you make the big bucks, Goodell. You are the commissioner of the NFL. Sure it’s nice to wine and dine with the billionaire owners. But after dessert, you still have to fine them, when the rules call for it. It’s what the fans and players expect and it’s what everyone will respect when done fairly even when it’s a tough call.

  22. The Pats started this pettiness with the Jets. What Woody Johnson said is not tampering by the heart of the rule. Tampering is backdoor communication with other teams players. Woody Johnson even called Kraft THAT SAME DAY to apologize for it & they still decided to pursue it. That’s why the Jets have come back with their nonsense tampering allegation, & frankly, I don’t blame them.

    And you got idiot Pats fans asking for a 1st rd pick for it?

  23. The meaning of negotiating is to talk to others in order to come to terms or reach an agreement. What’s the point of negotiating and not coming to an agreement? Waiting 3 more days for the free agency to start isn’t much to ask for, so just stop the “Legal tampering period,” it seems like its just setting teams up.

  24. Here’s an idea: Start the league year the day after the Super Bowl. Sure it might create a slight disadvantage for teams that were in the Super Bowl, but the consolation is that they were IN THE SUPER BOWL.

  25. Patriots whining about other teams breaking rules is like Chip Kelly complaining that Andy Reid’s weight makes coaches look bad.

    How are the Pats whining? Article not even about the Pats, must suck to be you that they’re on your mind constantly.

  26. There are three key parts to tampering.

    1. Did the team interfere with another team’s exclusive rights to negotiate with a player under contract?

    2. Did the team lose the services of the player or need to substantially increase the terms of its compensation to retain the player’s services?

    3. Did the player sign with the team that tampered.

    The damages should increase for each and every element that applies. In the case of the Jets and Revis, all three elements apply and the Jets should be suject to significant penalties and the Patriots should be compensated for their loss.

  27. Pay me 10% of Rodger BellyUP’s salary and there will be an immediate productivity increase by at least a 100% improvement over Mr. UR. Inept


  28. Too many BS rules that favor owners and not players. And players continue to screw themselves by not fighting to have these rules changed.

    This whole idea that a coach can’t talk football to his team in the off season? Why is this even a rule?

  29. Patriots fans aren’t whinning about teams breaking rules – they just want consistency.

    When the Patriots violate a minor 2006 rule on signal filming camera placement, it’s deemed such a HUGE violation that most fans here assert violation of a 2006 rule in 2007 invalidates games in 2001-2004 (which makes no sense)

    Statments made by the coaches of the Cowboys, Steelers, Ravens and others that “everyone does it” is scoffed at as an excuse

    So now, when the JETS blatantly tamper (for the second time) Goodell’s reason (and most fans) for abandoning enforcement appears to be “everyone does it”

    There’s a double standard in the NFL. If the Patriots do something, throw the book at them. If its the Jets or another team, look the other way. (Meanwhile, cheating on the Salary Cap like the Broncos, or the Falcons trying to replicate the Seahawks 12th Man advantage with artificial noise are HUGE issues that generated ZERO outrage among ignorant fans.)

  30. This is old hat for the Dolphins and Jets… Dolphins tampered with Shula and the Jets did it to the Pats with Parcels. The Pats and Colts got draft picks but had HOF coaches sleazed away from them. The NFL has been shady from day 1 why Why are people surprised?

  31. The PATRIOTS remind me of an innocent Man who was winning the people over to ‘the Better Way’ and others became so jealous that they falsely accused Him, beat Him and dragged Him before a ruthless ruler to be put to death – with no evidence of wrongdoing.
    That Man went on to WIN the SUPER BOWL just a few days later.

    What SUPER BOWL was that you ask?


  32. The fact that somebody else violates or that many others violate a rule should never be a viable defense. I suspect that the difficulty the NFL has relates to proving the violation(s). Generally, it is in the interest of all involved parties to keep the secret. Suspicion is not proof.

  33. The Jets’ pettiness cost the Patriots $750,000 and a 1st round pick.
    Jets fans thinking they deserve a break for blatantly breaking a rule is laughable. Give me a break, Jets fans!

  34. Do these idiots in the League Office and Goodell think teams and players are supposed to just meet for drinks, lunch or coffee during that 3 day window.

    The gravy train believes everyone should act like they do. meet and waste time and form committees That drag on forever w no urgency.

  35. “Maybe Goodell will decide to send a message, make an example of one team, and impose harsh discipline for tampering. Or maybe Goodell will decide that in the grand scheme of things, tampering really isn’t that big a problem, and the league would be better off letting it go.”

    Or maybe Goodell will hire Ted Wells to investigate and we will see the results of that investigation in 2029.

  36. Dude, it’s football, a sport. This gets more attention than criminal sentencing laws.

  37. Who is in charge of PR for this league? At what point does he/she stand up scream ENOUGH!

    Why on earth does this seem so intent on doing everything possible to make themselves look stupid?

    They make dumb, complicated rules about things no one cares about and then look like the Keystone Cops trying to enforce them.

    This is why lawyers make bad leaders.

  38. NFL rules book states ” Any public or private statement of interest, qualified or unqualified in another clubs player to that players agent or representative, or to a member of the media is a violation of the Anti-Tampering Policy. The league also gives an example of a prohibited comment. “He’s an excellent player and we’d very much like to have him if he were available, but another team holds his rights.”
    Woody Johnson’s statement as follows, “Darrell is a great player and if I thought I could have gotten Darrell for that, I probably would have taken him. And it was our best judgement to do what we did. Darrell is a great player, I’d love for Darrell to come back.”
    If that doesn’t qualify as blatant tampering, and warrant a substantial penalty, then they may as well eliminate the Anti tampering policy from the rules book.
    For those who disagree, just assume for a moment that the owner making the same exact statement that Johnson made was Robert Kraft and the player he was speaking of was Marshawn Lynch. Would it then be tampering ? My guess is that all the Patriot haters would be screaming for the Pats to lose all of their 2015 draft picks and be stripped of their Super Bowl win. Because it’s the Patriots who are the victims, nothing will happen to the JETS.

  39. Why try to police it? If there is an offense suspend everyone until the legal process polices it for them. Might be less athlete involvement in less than desirable activities if they knew what they were jeopardizing. The NFL should stimulate role model behavior instead of supporting degrees of wrong.

  40. You know who hasn’t tampered.

    The best team in the NFL since PC and RW arrived.

    There’s no denying it.

    Just accept it.


    Thank You.


    The Patriots Organization

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.