The appeal filed by Ezekiel Elliott regarding his 6-game suspension by the NFL is still pending as I write this. I want to make an observation about this matter before any decision is rendered here and before whatever decision is rendered here is appealed in some other venue.
- Elliott is suspended 6-games because the NFL set that level of suspension as the standard for involvement in domestic abuse/violence situations.
- The extant CBA gave the league the power to set that standard and it gave the commissioner the power to be sheriff, judge, jury and executioner in such cases.
Let me be clear. Domestic violence is intolerable; it should be punished in the judicial system but often the victim can be motivated not to cooperate with prosecutors. That is a societal problem that is beyond the scope of the NFL. After the black eye the NFL inflicted on itself with the leniency shown in the “Ray Rice Affair”, they moved to set this stiff penalty and to put it in place. We can argue if 6 games are too much or too little; once we settle that argument we can decide exactly how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Here is the problem at the moment:
- Adam Schefter – a highly respected reporter with a ton of NFL connections – indicated that there was the possibility that Elliott’s suspension could be reduced from 6 games to something less than that.
I have a problem with that even though I have exactly no idea whatsoever if Elliott did what he is purported to have done. Here is the deal:
- If he did what is alleged – and since this is not a legal proceeding, the standard does not have to be the same as would prevail in a courtroom – then Elliott needs to sit out 6 games.
- If he did not do what is alleged – and the standards are not those of a courtroom in that case either – then he needs to sit out 0 games.
- The thing about “zero tolerance policies” is that they are like the power button on your computer. It is either “ON” or it is “OFF”. There is no setting akin to “HALF-ON” or “SORTA-OFF”.
If the arbitrator hearing the case – or Roger Goodell subsequent to whatever his findings may be – decides to concoct a way to “split the difference” here, I think that would be a travesty. If the NFL is convinced that he did it; he should sit for 6 games and there should be no temptation at all to increase that number due to other circumstances. If the NFL is not convinced that he did it, he should start the season at RB for the Cowboys. That’s it…
With the real NFL games about to happen, let me share a couple of streaks that exist in the NFL that may or may not be extended in 2017. Before I start, remember that here in Curmudgeon Central we focus on negative records and streaks of futility. I am not going to talk about the extension of the Patriots domination of the AFC East other than to mention that the odds on the Pats winning that division title as of this morning are 1 to 10.
- Longest streak without a winning season: That “honor” belongs to the LA Rams and the last time they finished above .500 was in 2003. From 1999 to 2003, the Rams were “The Greatest Show On Turf”. In the 13 seasons since 2003, their record is 68-139-1. I think this streak will continue through the 2017 season…
- Longest streak without winning a division: Technically, this “honor” belongs to the Cleveland Browns whose last division championship was in 1989. There is a mitigating circumstance here, however; remember that the Cleveland Browns did not exist for 3 seasons in the time between 1989 and now. Therefore, I think there are two teams worthy of mention here. The Detroit Lions’ last division championship was in 1993. The Browns futility will indeed continue through the 2017 season. The Lions came close last year losing the division title on a tie-breaker; however, I do not think they will win the NFC North this year.
- Longest streak without making the playoffs: Surprising to me, neither the Browns nor the Lions hold down this “honor”. The team with the most severe playoff drought is the Buffalo Bills whose last playoff appearance was in 1999. I doubt the Bills will make the playoffs in 2017.
- Longest streak without a playoff victory: The infamy here belongs to the Cincinnati Bengals whose last playoff win came in 1991. I thought the Browns also owned this record but the Browns won a playoff game in 1994 in the time Bill Belichick was the coach there. The Bengals have been in the playoffs 7 times in the last 14 seasons under Marvin Lewis – and they have been “one-and-done” all 7 times. I do not like the Bengals’ chances of making the playoffs this year let alone winning a playoff game, but they have a better chance of doing that than any of the teams mentioned above have of breaking their streaks of shame.
- Longest streak since the last Super Bowl appearance: Four NFL franchises share this “distinction” because all four of them have never been in a Super Bowl game. Those teams are the Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars. As of this morning, the Texans are 10-1 to win the AFC Championship and that is the best of the lot here. Odds for the Jags to make the Super Bowl are 40-1; odds for the Browns to get there are 125-1; odds for the Lions to represent the NFC in the game are 30-1. These streaks look to continue on …
Finally, when the Tampa Bay Bucs cut placekicker Roberto Aguayo – someone they traded up to select in the second round of the draft, Mike Bianchi had this comment in the Orlando Sentinel:
“Even guys in my fantasy league know not to draft a kicker in the second round.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports ………