The best way to avoid the consequences of an unfortunate new precedent is to ignore the existence of the precedent.
That’s what the NFL might be doing, given the possibility that the Commanders made contact with retired Colts quarterback Andrew Luck in 2022, at a time when the Commanders were searching high and low for a new starter.
The Washington Post reports that the Commanders are “unlikely” to face punishment for tampering with Luck. The report explains that “there probably is ‘not enough hard evidence’ of impermissible contact” for a penalty to be imposed.
Here’s the question: What was done to look for evidence, hard or otherwise? The Post continues to treat as dispositive its own report that someone from Luck’s camp said the Commanders did not contact Luck, his father Oliver, or his agent. That denial hardly ends it; Luck, who has walked away from the game, surely has no interest in getting involved.
It wouldn’t be difficult to properly investigate this, if the NFL wanted to do so. Either the Commanders directly contacted the Colts about Luck, or the Commanders didn’t. If they didn’t directly contact the Colts, there’s a chance the Commanders contacted Luck or some intermediary.
A proper investigation would not be difficult to design. The Commanders would be directed to surrender text messages, emails, and/or phone records from executives, coaches, and scouts during the period of, for example, November 1, 2021 through the date on which the Commanders traded for Colts quarterback Carson Wentz. The information would then be reviewed carefully for any indication of an effort to explore whether Luck would be interested in returning to play.
The league could do this, if the league wanted to do it. Chances are the league doesn’t want to do it.
Per the report, the issue probably is “going to fade away.” That’s right, because that’s what the league apparently wants.
The league shouldn’t be surprised that the Colts demanded an investigation after ESPN reported that the Commanders “even phoned the retired Andrew Luck” while searching for a quarterback in early 2022. Given the resolution of the Jonathan Gannon tampering situation, which involved the unprecedented move of allowing the two involved teams to negotiate draft-pick compensation to settle things, any team that believes it has been the victim of tampering should demand an investigation in the hopes of a similar strategic edge.
By apparently looking the other way and hoping that this one is “going to fade away,” the league kills this new precedent before it can become one. Even if it’s entirely possible that the Commanders did indeed contact Luck or someone connected to Luck at a time when Luck remains under contract with the Colts.