In the hours after the filing of the Brian Flores lawsuit, the NFL issued its first word on the situation. Instead of declining comment, as the league did when it was sued last week over the relocation of the Chargers from San Diego, the league commented.
The comment ended with this assertion: ”We will defend against these claims, which are without merit.”
As Peter King noted on Twitter and as we discussed on Wednesday’s PFT Live, how can the league say that the claims are “without merit” on the same day they were made? Surely, it doesn’t know that already.
The statement was intended to send a message. The message is simple: “We will fight you over this.” This means that the league won’t, for example, perform an objective investigation or otherwise attempt to determine whether the claims have merit. It won’t try to see the situation from Flores’s perspective. It will deny, disclaim, and discredit. And it will attack, attack, and attack some more.
But what does the NFL gain from sending that message publicly? Why even add the premature editorial comment that the unexplored lawsuit is “without merit”?
For the rest of us, it’s useful to know which way the hot air is blowing. We now know that the NFL will, as it often does, reach a conclusion (i.e., “no one did anything wrong”) and work backward to prove it.
The better approach would have been to say something like this: “We take these matters seriously. We will investigate the claims fairly and thoroughly, and we will take any appropriate action.”
The fact that the NFL didn’t say this means, quite simply, that it won’t be acting that way, at all.