No Fun Today …

I am not looking forward to the topic I will mention today.  The NFL has suspended Ezekiel Elliott for 6 games for a violation of the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy.  That suspension comes at the end of an investigation that went on for a very long time by the league into allegations of domestic abuse.  No one who reads these rants needs me to recap the history here, but it is important to recognize that – once again – the NFL has chosen to act despite the lack of any indictment or conviction in the criminal justice system related to the alleged domestic abuse.

Back in September 2014 as the NFL flailed about after everyone saw the infamous “Ray Rice elevator video”, I wrote that the way the current CBA sets up the mechanism of NFL discipline guarantees that significant suspensions would always be contentious.  I really should have amended that assertion a bit;

  • Significant suspensions for important players on potential playoff teams will always be contentious.
  • I am not so sure that the level of rhetoric and legal challenge and fan vitriol would be the same if the NFL suspended Joe Flabeetz from one of the bottom-dwelling franchises for 6 games even if the “personal conduct violation” was nothing more than an allegation that he passed gas in an elevator.

At the core of the CBA flaw in the way it handles discipline issues is the fact that it rests the power of judge, jury and executioner in the person of the Commish.  Since 2014, I have believed that this is not what Roger Goodell is hired to do and the fact that he has this as one of “other duties as may be assigned from time to time”, sets him up in an untenable position.  Please take a moment and read what I wrote 3 years ago.

The “Ezekiel Elliott Escapade” is about to enter the “nasty phase”.  There will be aspersions cast by every side in this matter and it could get very ugly very quickly.  And here is the fundamental problem with this matter that should not be ignored but will be buried in the mudslide of vitriol that is about to happen:

  • The only two people on the planet who know the full story of what happened in these incidents from July 2016 are the alleged victim and Ezekiel Elliott.

Try to keep that in mind when you hear comments from sports radio yakkers, columnists, social advocates, Jerry Jones, NFL Front Office folks, me, you and the lamppost.

In the letter the NFL sent to Elliott informing him of the suspension, there is an ominous paragraph.  Perhaps I am reading more into this than was intended; perhaps this is boiler-plate language inserted here by the league lawyers:

“You must have no further adverse involvement with law enforcement, and must not commit any additional violations of league policies. In that respect, you should understand that another violation of this nature may result in your suspension or potential banishment from the NFL.”

It is the phrase “potential banishment” that jumped out at me.  I understand that banishment is indeed mentioned in the Personal Conduct Policy of the NFL, but somehow, that sentence seemed like driving a thumbtack with a jackhammer.

Before I leave this subject for today – knowing that I will probably feel the need to comment on it down the line somewhere – let me provide some atmosphere here:

  1. This would NOT be the first time the NFL suspended a “top-shelf” player for 6 games in the absence of any criminal charges or conviction.  They issued a 6-game suspension to Ben Roethlisberger in 2010 for the “nightclub incident” then despite any charges.  That suspension was ultimately reduced to 4 games.
  2. Assuming for a moment that the Elliott suspension stands, the Cowboys would start the 2017 season with 4 players under league suspension.  [Elliott for 6 games, Randy Gregory for 16 games, David Irving for 4 games and Damontre Moore for 2 games]
  3. In addition, two other guys on the Cowboys’ roster could face suspension in the future because of run-ins with the gendarmes.  Damien Wilson allegedly assaulted someone while in possession of a firearm and Nolan Carroll allegedly faces DUI charges.

Bob Molinaro had this comment in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot over the weekend:

“Tickets are still available for the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Connor McGregor greed-a-palooza on Aug. 26. How much are they? If you have to ask, you can’t afford them, but for the record, ringside seats go for $10,000 each.”

I read somewhere – but cannot locate it now – that the contract for the fight gives Mayweather a piece of the live gate for the fight.  If tickets are still available and are as costly as reported here, that might be a significant chunk of change that does not find its way into Mayweather’s bank account.  And that leads my cynical self to wonder:

  • In the past couple of weeks, Mayweather has said that he has “lost a step” and that he is an old fighter and that he has been training differently for this fight because of his age and the accumulated rust from his retirement status.
  • Might that be honest talk from Mayweather or might he just be saying that kind of stuff to goose the gate a bit by making it seem as if this fight could go either way?

Finally, I’ll close with this comment from Greg Cote last weekend in the Miami Herald regarding that upcoming fight:

“Countdown: 13 days ’til McGregor vs. Mayweather, the only fight I’ve ever been sick of even before it happened.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………