In a quick and stunning move, NFL Commissioner handed down the biggest penalty in league history last week when he penalized New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick a HALF A MILLION DOLLARS, along with an additional QUARTER OF A MILLION DOLLAR FINE to the team, along with the loss of a first round draft pick.
Quite a stunning penalty. But was there a "rush to judgement?" Did Goodell act way too quickly before hearing all of the evidence, including those words that have since been spoken by many former and current NFL coaches, and other NFL individuals who have said that the use of a video camera, or binoculars, or some other forum of grabbing opposing team signals has been in use for many years, and by most, if not all NFL teams at one time or another.
Was there, really, "cheating" going on as alleged by several members of the media but not by Goodell himself, or any official member of the executive branch of the National Football League, it's board of directors, owners, etc.?
By the same token, Goodell has never stepped forward to deny that "cheating" occured, and he never asked the media to refrain from the use of that word.
What Goodell has created is an nation-wide atomosphere amongst NFL fans, and even non-NFL fans who are under the impression, the wrong impression, that the Patriots cheated to win three Super Bowls when, in reality, they did something that all the other teams were doing. In fact, in most cases, any of the alleged tapes were really useless given the way the NFL schedule is made up with teams only meeting division rivals twice a year, while all other opponents are met with far less frequency.
Tapes of those team signals would have absolutely no value at all, considering that teams that play each other twice each season, usually change (or heavily adjust) their signals before a second encounter.
That being said, even then, signals taken from a previous meeting might be totally useless, too. And, let's not forget that many teams use TWO coaches to send in hand signals, one being a decoy. Opposing teams would have no time at all between plays to determine which is the decoy and which is the legitimate signal giver.
So, in essence, Goodell is totally off base in suggesting, even if he did not state it directly, that the Pats cheated. It would be virtually impossible.
Now comes the real disturbing part of this incident...
The case of the tape that showed up on FOX TV this past Sunday. How did FOX get ahold of a tape that was in the posession, and the security of the commissioner of the NFL? Whether he had it in his hand, his pocket, his desk, or stuffed in his shorts, the buck stops with him and HE alone should be accountable for it's loss to FOX TV Network.
Now, it just might be coincidence that Goodell's wife works for FOX in an on-air capacity as a newscaster. I am not suggesting anything out of order here, but it is quite strange that the tape didn't wind up on CBS, ESPN, NBC or any other network, but just FOX, the same network that Goodell's wife works for.
Did he give it to her? Did she "borrow" it without his knowledge? Or did it find it's way there by some other method?
In either case, the responsibility for its protection was in the hands of Roger Goodell, and he failed to get the job done, and in his failure, he opened the door for the story to grow through innuendo and partial truths.
And, for this, Roger Goodell, the young man who began his career in the NFL working for the New York Jets, the son of a former New York Republican Senator, and the commissioner of the National Football Leauge MUST face an investigation and the scrutiny of the NFL Board Of Directors, Owners, and the people of America.
Roger Goodell, in his short term as Commissioner, has done more to harm the stature of the NFL in just a few months, than anything else in all of it's illustrious history, including the year of the player strike.
His "rush to judgement" has put the NFL in a very bad light, and in particular, one man, and one team that may have done nothing more than any other NFL organization, using the electronic world of today to try to gain an edge over their opponents.
Isn't that a way of life in all sports: to gain whatever edge you can get on an opponent, be it professional sports, college sports, or even little league baseball.....coaches look for something, anything at all, that can give them the slightest of an advantage.
Bill Belichick just did it better than anyone else.
So, what is needed is a full investigation and Roger Goodell MUST be called in to face the NFL Owners at a special meeting where, at that time, for the good of the league, they must vote on one of three options: censure, reprimand, or removal as Commissioner of the NFL.
Every story has two sides. The NFL fans of America deserve the opportunity to hear both.