Letter to NFL (follow-up) 11-11-10

Again, thanks for taking the time to talk and thanks for passing on the information regarding Ben Roethlisberger’s suspension and helmet-to-helmet hits.


First, in regards to Ben’s suspension:


From the commissioner’s letter to Roethlisberger: “The Personal Conduct Policy makes clear that I may impose discipline ‘even where the conduct does not result in conviction of a crime’ as, for example, where the conduct ‘imposes inherent danger to the safety and well being of another person’,”


I guess my first contention with Goodell’s citation of the policy specifically goes to the section where it is noted that disciplinary action can be handed out “even where the conduct does not result in the conviction of a crime.’ If we take that policy at face value, then how did the commissioner make a leap from not resulting in a conviction to charges not even being levied? Roethlisberger was NOT charged with a crime. As the commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell can impose and does impose sanctions as he deems necessary, but this is not a section of policy to back up his determination to suspend Roethlisberger.

Again, the suspension goes back to what at least appears to he his arbitrary policing of the league. It is within his rights to do so, but it is also within the rights of all NFL fans to question his determinations. Where Goodell has fallen short is his forthrightness with the public regarding his sanctions. At least be honest with us and tell us that you are the commissioner and you will fine or suspend players as you see fit rather than hide behind a portion of a policy that does not cover your alleged grounds of suspension.


Also, in regards to Roethlisberger’s suspension, the determination that Ben supplied alcohol to underage college students is one that was made by the district attorney in Georgia but apparently not one he could stand behind to press charges for the infraction. How could Roethlisberger have determined the ages of the women who he purchased alcohol for inside a bar? Unless the bar allowed patrons who were not of legal drinking age to enter the facility and Ben was privy to that policy (which would be a bad policy), the liability for their intoxication should fall to the bar owner and staff, not Roethlisberger. This wasn’t a party at his home. It was at a public bar.


One final thought on Roethlisberger’s suspension:


From the commissioner’s letter to Ben:


[After noting no criminal action can be proven, the letter states] “That said, you are held to a higher standard as an NFL player, and there is nothing about your conduct in Milledgeville that can remotely be described as admirable, responsible, or consistent with either the values of the league or the expectations of our fans.”


Statements like this represent the moral high roads taken by the commissioner in some instances but not in others that leave fans like myself disheartened and confused.

Policing morals is a tricky business. Ben’s actions that night were not what anyone would consider to show strong moral or even responsible character, however, the commissioners apparent singling out of Roethlisberger and his poor judgment calls the commissioner’s judgment into question.

How can one man determine and grade the actions of hundreds through a policy that is open to discretion and therefore inherent for faults? It is impossible and Goodell has fallen short of the mark.

Letting all the other cases involving Goodell’s decisions to overlook apparent wrongdoing, even cases where charges were filed against high profile players like Cedric Benson (charged with driving a boat drunk in 2008 and fighting with police, driving drunk later that year and then assaulting a bartender in June 2010) and Vince Young (charged with assault in June 2010) go for now, we will just focus on one as an example.

Explain to me why Ben was suspended for six games and then reduced to four because Ben met the commish’s expectations while playing the role of scolded schoolboy and Cleveland Browns nose tackle Shaun Rogers who carried a loaded .45-caliber handgun onto a plane and was hit with federal charges as a result was not suspended by the league? Is it because loaded semiautomatic weapons in crowded public places being carried illegally are less egregious than drunken barhopping with questionable sexual motives? Please tell me that you cannot honestly make that call.

But, here, let me do a little speculating.

I’m guessing Roger Goodell was so moved by Rogers story that purportedly occurred a few months after the gun infraction where he apparently attempted to stop an erratic driver who was later determined to be intoxicated that he could not suspend him. Goodell, I speculate, could simply tell he was dealing with an upstanding character and nothing needed to be done in regards to the F-A-C-T that he BROUGHT A LOADED GUN ONTO AN AIRPLANE. Sure. I get it. Not to mention Rogers was accused of sexually assaulting a stripper in 2007. Or that he was suspended in 2006 for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

But since charges were never filed in those cases and we live in a society that is based on the premise of innocent until proven guilty, I guess that would explain the commissioner’s decision not to examine Roger’s past infractions when looking at the gun incident much like he did with Ben Roe…oh wait. That’s right. He didn’t do that with Roethlisberger. He looked at everything and then simply hanged him publicly to make a statement.


As to your argument regarding the league’s sudden fascination with helmet-to-helmet hits, the first thing I think that you need to do before addressing my concerns is address the concerns of the players in your league. If one of your league’s superstars, Troy Polamalu, is confused and feels Goodell is responsible for fining players and is entrusted with entirely too much power, then maybe you can understand where I made that assumption.

Additionally, even if Goodell is simply made aware of the fines as you state, and Vice President of Football Operations Ray Anderson and his two-man ex-football player team are responsible for reviewing plays and levying fines, Goodell can still and should still shoulder the burden when Anderson’s determinations are awful.

Example time. The Cowboys are 1-7. I didn’t see Jerry Jones firing Miles Austin and DeMarcus Ware for that record. It was head coach Wade Phillips that got the boot. Goodell needs to be prepared to take the blame for determinations by a team he admittedly oversees, even in a non-binding fashion, because he is the face of the NFL shield.

I don’t necessarily agree with some scuttlebutt around the league that current players should be involved in the review process but I also don’t think the current system is adequate to properly review plays that could be of a finable nature.

From your email I see that plenty of steps have been taken to try to ensure fairness with the NFL and NFLPA both paying the salaries of the review board and I do commend the NFL for donating all fines collected to charity but this kneejerk reaction to the situation has been a bust. You need to reevaluate the policies and find a new way of policing devastating hits, otherwise, the league will continue to undermine everything it should stand for.




Josh Krysak


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