Wait - a - Minute, Run That Back...

By: Jason Henry

I am one of the biggest NFL fans on the face of this planet. I am an even bigger Dallas Cowboys fan. But the NFL shield isn't as shiny to me anymore; not as glamorous. The sparkly shield the NFL so proudly display's now has a little rust and few dents in it all because of one man. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Since being named to the NFL's highest post Goodell has gained a reputation for being a tough; no non-sense type of guy. (Think Pacman Jones, Tank Johnson, Michael Vick and Chris Henry) According to Goodell; he wants to change the image of the National Football League. So if anyone compromises the integrity of the league, expect an immense punishment.

Well, maybe that does not apply for everyone. (Think Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots)

True Michael Vick compromised the league's integrity by fighting dogs, lying to the commish and pleading guilty to dog fighting charges. True Pacman Jones did the same by just simply getting into trouble. Over and over and over and over and over again. Yet these actions happened away from the football field. So if a person or team compromises the leagues integrity (I keep repeating compromise and integrity because this is what Mr. Goodell stresses) on the field, what will Commissioner Goodell do?

Well, Goodell had his chance to expound upon his mission. When New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was accused of video taping his opponents (opponents is in plural form because he has been accused of this more than once) defensive signals; he stated that he "misinterpreted league rules" when questioned about. The NFL was able to obtain video of the incident; which proved Belichick was indeed cheating. This is one of the most blatant cases of cheating in recent memory. There is no way in this world that Goodell would not suspend Belichick and fine him an amount that Bill Gates could feel.

But, I was wrong. The Patriots were docked a couple of draft picks, well possibly. If the team makes the playoffs this year (Patriots are currently 4-0), then the Pats are forced to give up two first round picks next year. Now let's check the fine. Belichick-$500,000; Patriots organization-$250,000.
...........

Silence is my only response.

The Atlanta Falcons are attempting to recoup $16 million dollars from the $22 million dollar signing bonus the team gave Michael Vick. Hmmm... So if Vick compromised the league's integrity and was suspended indefinitely for doing so, why not the same treatment for Belichick? Is it because Belichick has won 3 Super Bowls? Maybe because the Patriots are the toast of the NFL and can do no wrong in the leagues eyes? Or is simply because of dreamy quarterback Tom Brady? What about this one. Could it possibly be about race?

While I only resort to bringing race into the equation when it is blatant, this one is pretty close. Vick-black, Pacman-black, Tank-black, Chris Henry-black. All fined and suspended by Goodell for bad behavior and compromising the league's integrity. Belichick-white. Not suspended, but fined $500,000 for compromising the league's integrity.

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb stated that black quarterbacks are un-fairly criticized and face more pressure than their white counterparts. Goodell's treatment of Belichick and the Patriots gives merit to McNabb's comments. While McNabb was right in his statement; I took more than just quarterbacks being un-fairly criticized in the media from what he said. Lovie Smith took the Chicago Bears to the Super Bowl for first time since 1985 last season, yet the Bears were hesitant to give him a new contract.

This is why race is often mentioned when a situation such as this one arises. This is why African-Americans sometimes feel as if they are still on the outside looking in. This is why William Rhoden named his latest book Forty-Million Dollar Slaves.

Roger Goodell is not living up to the expectations that he set for the league. Why is this one situation separate from the other if they both compromise the league's integrity? Goodell is still fresh in the game and still has a long way to go. So he has time to make up for his blunder in New England. I only hope that those dents in the shield don't erode into permanent holes.

-JH

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