Did you watch the Superbowl yesterday? The NFL says thank you for your support!
In the world of athletics the fans, coaches, teams and organizations all have the tendency to turn a blind eye to the indiscretions of the athletes, coaches, and owners. We write the rules of the game and the codes of conduct for the participants, only to hand out absolution like Halloween candy when participants exceed the boundaries. We have turned ‘Trick or Treat’ into ‘Trick and Treat.’ We are permissive, overly indulgent parents who have reared a pack of spoiled, selfish brats who, in some cases, literally get away with murder. Still, in almost every sport on planet Earth there is a breaking point… a point where tolerance ends, even if it is too little too late. Every sport, that is, except in the National Football League.
Here is a list of some non-NFL associations that have issued lifetime bans to participants for various infractions.
In 1920 ‘Shoeless’ Joe Jackson, along with a bunch of his Chicago White Sox teammates, conspired to fix the 1919 World Series. Baseball commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, banned them for life.
In 1927 NHL player Billy Coutu assaulted a referee. The NHL banned him for five years. He never played in the majors again.
In 1954 NBA player Jack Molinas was convicted of points shaving during his NCAA years at Columbia University. The NBA banned him for life.
In 1962 English footballer Tony Kay conspired to fix a match for purposes of gambling. He served ten weeks in jail and was banned seven years, ending his career.
In 1983 boxer Luis Resto wore illegal gloves during a match. The New York State Boxing Commission effectively banned him for life.
In 1989 Pete Rose placed bets on his own team so Major League Baseball banned him for life.
In 1993 Canadian sprinter, Ben Johnson, tested positive for a banned substance after winning a race. The IAAF banned him for life.
In 1994 Tanya Harding was part of a conspiracy to injure rival skater Nancy Kerrigan. The USFSA banned her for life.
In 1995 the NBA banned Roy Tarpley for life for drug and alcohol abuse.
In 1999, Cincinnati Reds owner and outspoken racist, Marge Schott, was facing a third suspension by MLB. She sold the team and left baseball.
In 2012 cyclist Lance Armstrong finally admitted to doping. The UCI stripped him of his titles and banned him for life.
In 2013 El Salvador banned 14 players for life for fixing games.
In 2013 Greek footballer Giorgos Katidis gave the crowd a Nazi salute after scoring a goal. Greece banned him from the national team for life.
In 2014 Portuguese footballer Ricardo Ferreira assaulted a referee. He was banned for 50 years.
In 2014 Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling made some derogatory, racist comments to his girlfriend. The NBA banned him for life and took away his team.
Now look at how the National Football League handles rules violations and acts of moral turpitude equal to or more egregious than the aforementioned list.
In 1999 Cleveland Browns player Orlando Brown assaulted a referee after being inadvertently hit in the eye with a weighted flag. In most sports that is the quickest way to heavy sanctions, including a potential lifetime ban. Brown’s suspension was the only thing that got suspended.
In 2007 Michael Vick went to jail for running an illegal dog fighting arena on his property and committing all sorts of deranged animal abuse like hanging dogs. Four months after he was released from prison he was back in uniform, tossing the pigskin for the Philadelphia Eagles.
In 2007 Patriot’s coach, Bill Belichick illegally videotaped opponents sideline signals to gain an unfair advantage during games. He was fined, but not suspended or banned. Since Belichick is fabulously wealthy, the fine was meaningless. Now he is caught up in another cheating scheme in 2014. My prediction is maybe another slap on the wrist for Belichick, but not until after the Superbowl.
In 2012 the NFL banned absolutely no one for their participation in the New Orleans Saints ‘Bounty’ program designed to pay players to intentionally hurt opponents. The Saints players intentionally injured five NFL quarterbacks in what amounted to a paid, game-fixing enterprise. Despite being worse than Tonya Harding and Pete Rose combined, the architect of the Saints bounty program, coach Gregg Williams, is still coaching today.
In 2012 Dallas Cowboys player Josh Brent killed fellow teammate Jerry Brown in an auto accident. Brent was drunk and driving recklessly, and not for the first time. In 2009 he was sentenced to sixty days in jail for driving under the influence. After the 2012 incident, Brent admitted trying to tamper with his monitoring device and failing two drug tests. The only punishment he got from the NFL was a fatherly lecture… and a paycheck.
In 2013 Miami Dolphin player Richie Incognito, largely considered the NFL’s dirtiest player, actually drove teammate Jonathon Martin off the team with his racist bullying. While the Dolphins kicked Incognito off the team in the wake of the embarrassing scandal, the NFL could not find the guts to do what Greece, MLB and the NBA organizations did with Katidis, Schott and Sterling. Instead of banning him for life, the NFL allowed Incognito to retain his free-agent status. He still gets to play if a team will have him.
In 2014 Ray Rice KO’ed his very petite girlfriend like he was Mike Tyson. On camera. Then dragged her limp body into the lobby like he Tarzan, she Jane. He deserves to be banned from all sports for life. All men who hit women should be. I wouldn’t buy a used car from that guy. Too bad the NFL loves him.
In 2014 Adrian Peterson beat the hell out of his helpless, four year old son with a switch. Just about every square inch of the boy’s body was covered in bleeding welts and bruises, including his genitals. That is okay in Texas, so no jail time for Peterson. That is okay in the NFL, so Peterson will be allowed to show his face at training camp next season if he wants to.
As far as I can find, the NFL has never banned a player for life for using performance enhancing drugs. They did ban Stanley Wilson (1989) and Dexter Manley (1991) for cocaine abuse, and Art Schlichter (1987) for gambling. That is about it. By using an emasculated system of suspensions and fines, the NFL consistently rewards it athletes and coaches for their evils. Think on how many NCAA coaches have fled looming sanctions at their college programs only to land in the NFL! It is as though the NFL has hung out a shingle with “Cheaters Welcome” written on it.
So where exactly does the NFL draw its strength? The fans. We pay for the tickets. We buy the products. We subscribe to the packages. We play the fantasy games. We give the NFL tacit permission to condone the most heinous acts so we can be entertained by games on the field and controversy off the field. The NFL’s ratings dwarf all other sports… even in the off-season. The NFL will continue with its sensational corruption until such time as the fans stop buying the product. For now, we are getting what we pay for – moral bankruptcy with all the validity of professional wrestling.