Archive for the ‘Roger Goodell’ Category

Slowly, ever so slowly, we’re reaching the point where the players who were allegedly involved in the Saints’ (umm, alleged) bounties will be left to do little more than shrug their shoulders, and accept their fate. That started today, when settlement talks broke down between the league and Jonathan Vilma, who was the mob boss of sorts among the four players who have been punished.

A hearing is still scheduled for tomorrow regarding Vilma’s request for a temporary restraining order that will allow him to work until all legal proceedings are complete, which includes his defamation suit against Roger Goodell. The settlement talks were of the court-ordered variety, and when two adversaries — which is what Vilma and the league have become — are forced to speak in a legal setting, the animosity is often overpowering, and the league likely had little desire to negotiate.

That’s what a source told NFL.com’s Steve Wyche, who was the first to report the absence of a settlement:

The league never formally offered Vilma a reduction in his suspension in an effort to end this portion of the bounty scandal, the NFL and another source familiar with the settlement talks said.

In addition to his defamation suit, Vilma has also filed a motion asking for his year-long suspension to be overturned. Both decisions will creep along slowly, as is the nature of the legal system, but tomorrow a judge could rule on whether or not Vilma can return to practice and preseason games as a final decision on his legal claims is pondered.

The other three players who were punished (Anthony Hargrove, Will Smith, and Scott Fujita) have had motions filed on their behalf by the players’ union, and those proceedings will begin after the preseason schedule is completed.

Meanwhile, we’ll all return to caring far more about football games that are meaningless.

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Usually I try to begin weeks here at GLS on a positive, upbeat note. That would seem to be especially fitting since I’m in a jovial mood following a long weekend here in the great nation of Canada that involved copious amounts of brown beverage consumption, and a lot of time spent wearing the minimum amount of clothes allowable.

And while today’s item that leads our daily journey through the interconnecting blue words that provide us with infotainment isn’t necessarily bad or depressing news, it’s a little, well, confusing, even if it’s also quite predictable. For the source of this confusion, let’s turn to the continued battle against legalized gambling in the land of the free.

You see, New Jersey would like to gamble legally. Currently four states allow legalized sports gambling — Nevada (duh), Oregon, Delaware, and Montana — and instead of opposing a ban implemented in 1992, back in May New Jersey governor Chris Christie said the state would simply start allowing gambling. Essentially he was and still is saying a very emphatic screw you while raising a few cans of Bud to the roof and screaming “hell yeah!”.

Welp, Christie anticipated a backlash by the four major sports and especially the NFL and NCAA. Countdown to blacklash: 3…2…1….

The NCAA and the four major professional sports leagues (MLB, NBA, NFL and the NHL) today filed a complaint against New Jersey state officials in federal court in Trenton, NJ seeking to stop the state from implementing sports betting on pro and college games.

The leagues and the NCAA assert that the state’s recently announced decision to offer sports betting violates long-standing federal law.  The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (“PASPA”) became law in 1992 and prohibits states from operating a lottery or betting scheme based on pro or college games.  This law is also known as the “Bradley Act” for its proponent, then New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley.

That’s part of the official press release outlining the seething anger that prompted a lawsuit today. Hmmm, today, only a few days after the first NFL preseason game (which people unbelievably bet on), and a few days before many more teams open their preseason schedules on Thursday. Oh, and just over three weeks before NCAA football starts.

Yes, friends, the football money making machine is churning, and it’s powered by dirty mob money. No one wants that, right?

The NFL sort of seems to, a preference indicated with the league’s participation in this lawsuit. I have to let you in on an industry secret, and you should probably sit down for this, although I’m not quite sure why you were standing up. People will always gamble, and if a legal avenue isn’t available, an illegal one will work just fine, whether it’s through a bookie or an offshore account.

Gambling has always been the dirty secret the NFL has silently acknowledged. Injury reports aren’t made mandatory Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday for fans. They’re for fans of gambling, and fans of making money off wagers that are somewhat controlled, but mostly arbitrary. The lines for every game during every week of every season are also widely available on the constantly scrolling tickers of the major networks. There are no secrets here.

By fighting a clear driver of NFL interest that they know exists, the league is really only pushing a known lucrative business further into dark, dirty shadows. Like, say, the ones in the very state of New Jersey, where crime families have been profiting off of the NFL.

From U.S. News:

Recently in New Jersey, 13 members and associates of the Genovese organized crime family were charged in a scheme to use an overseas sports betting website to run an illegal online sports gambling operation. This perfect storm is made possible by federal laws that essentially give organized crime and overseas interests a virtual monopoly on sports wagering in the 46 states that are prohibited from setting up legal sports wagering.

Legalizing sports wagering recognizes the inevitable—that people are going to bet on sports, whether the practice is legal or not, and that we should provide a safe and legal avenue for them to bet on their favorite teams. By mainstreaming sports wagering, we can take some of the power away from organized crime and offshore Internet operators, and put it in the regulated hands of existing casino and racetrack operators. And we can create new jobs and new economic opportunities for our ailing gaming establishments.

The solution proposed there sounds like a scenario where everyone wins, except the NFL, because only the NFL can make money off of the NFL’s product.

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As the summer Olympics in London march ahead with its bouncing dongs and investigative discussion of one-night stands, the NFL finds itself in an unfamiliar early August position. Usually the league has all of the sports spotlight, all of the time. Now, during a time when excitement over training camp and the beginning of preseason games is at its peak, the NFL is conceding part of said spotlight.

Roughly, I’d estimate the league’s spotlight coverage to still be at about 80 percent, because there isn’t much overlap between those who are intensely following the Dolphins QB battle, and anyone who’s currently pretending to care about badminton. Still, that’s not sufficient, as one day when our world is united under a single flag, Roger Goodell will be declared king of humanity. This is our manifest destiny.

Goodell is already taking steps to begin his world domination, and the early measures involve trying to include the American version of football in a summer Olympics to be played in the not-so distant future. We learned about this last week, and the idea was, to say the least, intriguing.

And of course, Goodell is intrigued and excited too, and said as much during an interview with Mike Florio as he noted that 64 counties are playing American football. The players? Not so much.

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This Sunday a football game will be played. All your problems will melt away, unless, of course, you’re the type to wager any money (any money at all) on the first game of the exhibition season in which the starters will play maybe five snaps. (Confession: I once bet on a preseason game, and felt deep shame).

You’ll forget about the offseason, and especially the height of the dog days between late June and the end of July, when mini camps end, and the only football being played anywhere is the sad long toss between you and your dog. It’s over now, though, and we’re safe. We’re all safe.

But if the memory blockage due to the start of the NFL season doesn’t sink in too deeply, you’ll surely recall the growth of a pandemic of idiocy that saw NFL players struggle with the concept of drinking and driving, or rather not driving after drinking. The reality is that while the optics were frightening–especially when several players were arrested multiple times–the level of DUI/DWI incidents involving NFL players this offseason wasn’t any higher than the amount of inebriated driving in society as a whole. Also, the number of NFL arrests so far this year are up compared to last year, but only very, very marginally (there were 44 in 2011, and 48 through seven months of 2012).

Still, optics alone can be damaging for a league which very much prefers an image that’s shiny and neat over one that’s littered with broken windshield glass and smashed parked cars. That’s why last week the NFL and NFLPA met to discuss the rash of arrests this offseason, and disciplinary measures that can or should be taken.

Word of the meeting surfaced last night through a report from Mike Freeman of CBS Sports. Commissioner Roger Goodell said that the focus going forward won’t be on installing new policies, and instead existing rules will be fortified.

From Freeman:

Goodell says he wants to focus on eradicating two main issues: drinking and driving and domestic violence. The main way the league wants to do this, he said, is strengthen already existing policies. The league may also add some new ones, assuming they can work out something with the union. Both sides have pledged to keep the substance of their talks private.

Under the current substance abuse policy a player arrested for DUI is subject to evaluation and entry into the substance program and (for a first offense with no aggravating circumstances, i.e., someone injured) a fine of two game checks up to a maximum of $50,000. Discipline for second or subsequent violations would likely be a suspension.

Domestic violence falls under the league’s personal conduct policy. Under this policy any player or league employee that, for example, is convicted of domestic violence attack can be subject to fines and suspension.

“We’ve had some really good discussions with the union,” Goodell said. “Now we just have to see if we can carry through with them.”

There will be more arrests this year, and more moronic behavior and reasons for the general public to make casual blanket statements about the character of the average NFL player, when in reality it’s mostly the proverbial minority that’s acting a fool.

But when that minority is minimized even further, those blankets of negativity will also shrink. That’s the goal here: to give the public fewer reasons to generically slap the mindless thug label on players.

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