The Integrity Of The Games

A seemingly minor kerfuffle surfaced late last week and over the weekend.  Someone asked Mecole Hardman – – the receiver of the game-winning TD pass in last month’s Super Bowl – – if in this year’s free agency, he might be going back to the Jets where he signed a deal last year.  Hardman’s time in NY was less than productive and he was traded by the Jets in mid-season back to the Chiefs where he had begun his career.  Hardman said he did not enjoy his time in NY and that he definitely would not consider an offer from the Jets this time around.

The reporting on that exchange between Hardman and a writer qualifies as a “Nothing-burger”.  But then someone on the Jets suggested that Hardman may have leaked the Jets’ game plans to the Eagles and the Chiefs while he was still in NYC.  [Aside: for the record, the Jets beat the Eagles and lost a close game to the Chiefs last season.]

And that assertion/allegation/accusation changes to entire ecosystem for this kerfuffle.  If the NFL is indeed as fixated on maintaining the integrity of its games – – as it should be since those games produce more than $20B in revenue annually- – , they need to get the unvarnished facts here and make those facts known.

Obviously, IF Mecole Hardman – or any player for any team in the NFL – deliberately gives away his team’s game plan to an opponent prior to that game, that player needs to be suspended for life from the NFL.  Such a behavior is about as bad as a player taking a bribe to throw a game; the NFL cannot tolerate it.  The “integrity of the games” is severely jeopardized by such behavior.

But I want to take this a step further.  Again, IF Mecole Hardman actually revealed the Jets’ game plan to someone associated with the Eagles and/or the Chiefs, the NFL needs to find out who those persons are and banish them too.  Receiving such information prior to a game against the Jets and not reporting the fact of receiving it makes the receiving party as culpable as the transmitting party to the assault on the “integrity of the games”.

There is an item posted at saying that Pro Football Talk had contacted the NFL and that the league had “no comment” even to the point that it would not acknowledge the existence of an investigation.  The folks at Pro Football Talk say the NFL should conduct such an investigation; I will go a few steps farther and say that the NFL absolutely must investigate here, and it needs to do so in the light of day.

I am not the least bit surprised that the NFL would prefer to sit back and see if this whole business dries up and blows away.  However, what is needed here is a real investigation done by an outside entity with a promise from the outset that all findings and evidence will be revealed to the public.  And if you and I never hear about such action(s), keep all of this in mind the next time the NFL worries about players or coaches or owners gambling at things like slot machines or casino table games or the like.

  • Memo to NFL Execs and “The Commish”:  If you want people to take you seriously when you bloviate about the “integrity of the games”, you had better get to the bottom of this.  And you cannot get to the bottom of this by simply waving it off and saying that there is no problem at all here after conducting a sham “investigation” with no publication of findings.

The NFL Gambling Policy says that the sharing of “confidential, non-public information regarding any NFL game or event” is a no-no.  Clearly a team’s game plan for an upcoming game is confidential and non-public.  So, even IF no one involved in the alleged exchanges of game plan information used that information to bet on the game(s), it is still a violation of league policy.

I have emphasized the word IF” above because it is possible that the person on the Jets who made the initial statement that set this whole issue on a negative vector has nothing related to “evidence” of such a clandestine exchange.  In that case, it would behoove the NFL to close all this out with a simple declarative statement plus an admonition to players and coaches that such accusations are akin to killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.

Moving on …  Don’t do this in India Ink but take a pencil and lightly circle the date March 27 on your calendar.  If you look at the NBA standings this morning, you may notice that the Washington Wizards and the Detroit Pistons both have records of 9-51.  There are still plenty – – maybe too many? – – games for these teams to play in the regular season but each team needs to win another game to avoid the ignominy of joining the Sixers as the most inept team in NBA history.  Recall back in the 70s that the Sixers completed a season with a 9-73 record.

Here is why you need to circle March 27 on your calendar:

  • On that auspicious occasion, the Detroit Pistons will visit Washington DC to take on the Washington Wizards.
  • Regardless of how bleakly both teams may play over the course of the final 22 games in this regular season, one of them WILL win at least their tenth game of the regular season and escape disgrace.

Finally, since much of today’s rant involves an issue potentially tied to the “integrity of the games” for the NFL, let me remind the NFL pooh-bahs that “integrity” is like “virginity”.

  • One only gets to lose it once.

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



3 thoughts on “The Integrity Of The Games”

    1. Doug:

      Excellent question. I am not sure how one might begin to determine such a thing given the number of teams and games where it may or may not have occurred.

  1. Integrity in the NFL? I know you read “The League” by David Harris.

    My view remains the same: Roger Goodell is a used-car salesman.

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