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Cowboys and Redskins Knew They Would Be Punished...So Why the Fuss?

WASHINGTON - MARCH 10:  John Mara, owner of the New York Giants, arrives at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service building March 10, 2011 in Washington, DC.  Representatives from the National Football League (NFL) and National Football League Players' Association (NFLPA) continue to negotiate a labor dispute during a 7 day extension of talks.  (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)
Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images
Aaron NaglerNFL National Lead WriterMarch 26, 2012

NFL owners, general managers and coaches are congregated in Palm Beach, Florida for the next few days to attend the 2012 owners meetings. One of the hottest topics outside of Bountygate and Tim Tebow, of course, will be the grievance filed by the Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys against the league and the NFLPA challenging the agreement to remove and redistribute $10 million (for the Cowboys) and $36 million (for the Redskins) in cap space in exchange for increasing the total salary cap for 2012 to $120.6 million per team.

The media has jumped hard on the side of the supposedly aggrieved Redskins and Cowboys on this one, saying that what the two teams did—taking cap hits during the 2010 season that normally would have been spread out over the length of the contracts, which supposedly gave the teams a competitive advantage—should have been a no-brainer in what the league itself dubbed an "uncapped" year. 

It does seem pretty clear cut. If the year was truly "uncapped," clubs should have been able to do whatever they liked in regards to the salary cap. 

Which made this quote from Giants owner John Mara yesterday rather telling:

This has nothing to do with collusion. It has to do with teams attempting to gain a competitive advantage through a loophole in the system. They attempted to take advantage of it knowing full well there would be consequences.

Knowing full well there would be consequences

This is the type of story that the media loves to get all indignant over, as if the NFL operates in anything other than a singular Bizzaro World when it comes to the American business landscape. 

Look, there are 32 NFL teams on this planet, owned by 31 individuals with the other one run by a CEO that is hired by a governing board of directors. Those owners are only allowed into this exclusive club if granted permission by a majority of the rest of the league. Individuals who own NFL teams don't do so without realizing that the NFL is a beast entirely unto itself. 

If, as Mara intimates above, Daniel Snyder and Jerry Jones knew there would be consequences to their actions and went ahead anyway, well, their fellow owners apparently made it clear there would be repercussions to such actions. Those conversations, whether in a conference call, at a league meeting or through email communication are clearly not something the media has been privy to. 

But that doesn't stop columnists and bloggers everywhere from condemning the league from going after poor old Danny and Jerry. 

Please. 

If there's an envelope to be pushed, you can bet Snyder and Jones will be right out front pushing it. Their fellow owners obviously feel they needed to send a message by taking away cap space over the 2012 and/or 2013 seasons (the clubs are allowed to spread the hit out over two years if they wish.) Everything else is just misplaced righteousness. 

And yes, I realize I am coming down staunchly on the side of Mara vs. Sndyer & Jones in the "who do you trust and believe" department—and I feel pretty comfortable doing so. 

Seems pretty simple to me. 

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