Jim Tressel followed in the footsteps of his protégé Terrelle Pryor by jumping to the NFL, and he's going to suffer silently on the sidelines along with him. Yesterday the Colts announced Tressel will sit out the first six weeks, a penalty that was self-imposed because the Commissioner's office was unusually quiet. Today someone finally asked Roger Goodell about it, and he thinks the Colts made the right decision:
"I think it was clear that if they didn't take an appropriate action, I would have taken appropriate action," Goodell said.
Does it seem like we've been here before? We hate having to go over the same ground repeatedly, but we'll keep playing Statler and Waldorf as long as Goodell keeps making so many misguided decisions. ("Misguided?" That's a newspaper weasel word. The league's treatment of the Ohio State refugees is wrong, and it's asinine, and it should be illegal.)
Goodell had to say he was going to come down on Tressel, despite a history of going easy on fugitive coaches, but only because he set a hasty and dangerous precedent with Pryor. We remind you once again that the NFL has decided not only that it can punish NFL employees for violating non-NFL rules before they became NFL employees, but that it must.
Go back to the league's press release on Pryor's suspension. There's barely contained magnanimity over "allowing" Pryor to enter the supplemental draft, even though the entire point of the supplemental draft is to bring in kids who couldn't/didn't enter the standard one. The release cites as grounds for suspension "failing to cooperate with the NCAA and hiring an agent in violation of NCAA rules," which, once again, are none of Roger Goodell's or the NFL's goddamn business. But get this:
"NFL clubs were informed that Pryor made decisions that undermine the integrity of the eligibility rules for the NFL Draft."
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Integrity! In a league where teams tank, refuse to spend money, require PSLs for fans, push their players until their brains turn soft, look the other way on PEDs, and lie through their fucking teeth to the players, media and god about how much money they're raking in, the integrity that Roger Goodell is concerned about is a college kid who signed autographs and a coach who protected him. He's an Old Testment God: his ways are unknowable and shame on you for asking questions.
Integrity! The appeal to morality is a logical fallacy, and one that the NFL is all too happy to invoke any time they feel they're made to look bad, but don't have any legal recourse to address. But there's a good reason they don't have legal recourse: a century's worth of laws meant to protect workers from overreaching or vindictive employers. Just because the NFL has a non-statutory labor exemption doesn't mean it's not a trust, one that wouldn't stand up to any competent legal review. But Roger Goodell says fuck that noise: Pryor's suspended, and Tressel is too, and same goes for anyone else that the NFL decides isn't doing things the NFL way. Happy belated Labor Day.