Sports News Without Access, Favor, Or Discretion

The NFL's Useful Idiots Are At It Again

Now that the Chicago Bears have released defensive end Ray McDonald—who was previously investigated for sexual assault and yesterday was arrested on charges of domestic violence for the second time in a year—a chorus of NFL media stooges have begun squawking for someone to do something about all of this, uh, bad stuff.

We’ll start with Mike Florio, who pressed publish on this very bad column at 6:42 a.m. His big idea:

The only way to get the attention of teams inclined to roll the dice on the Ray McDonalds of the world will be to attach the loss of future draft picks when a player with a propensity for getting into trouble gets into trouble.

[...]

Ultimately, it’s the only thing that will cause a team that sees a first-round talent slide to round four to stop and think about the potential consequences for rolling the dice. If/when the worst-case scenario unfolds, the team won’t simply lose the lower pick invested in a player whose ability should have gotten him off the board much sooner. They’ll lose one or more picks in the future.

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Note that the hyperlinked phrase in that second paragraph leads to another PFT post about how the Patriots were aware that Aaron Hernandez had “issues” when they drafted him in the fourth round in 2010. The implication here seems to be that the New England Patriots should be docked draft picks because Aaron Hernandez turned out to be a psychopathic murderer.

Florio isn’t the only one that feels this way, though. Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman wrote a similar column, imploring the NFL to set up a system that would harshly penalize teams for signing players who have had multiple arrests:

Why not dock a team a draft pick if it signs or drafts a player who has multiple arrests or investigations related to abuse? Emphasis on multiple.

What is wrong with making all parties accountable, not just the players, but the teams who roll the dice? Nothing would transform the NFL even faster on this issue than the teams finally being held accountable.

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This is apparently an idea that is gaining steam:

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What’s remarkable here isn’t how plainly bad or backwards this idea is—the two possible outcomes here are that every player who’s ever been arrested for anything becomes a leper who can’t find a job, or teams just find that much more incentive to cover up their players’ bad behavior—but how effortlessly these guys assume their positions in Roger Goodell’s public relations corps whenever a situation like this arises.

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Roger Goodell has repeatedly fallen on his face trying to enforce the personal-conduct policies he comes up with in his ill-fated effort to engineer the NFL, an amoral entertainment concern, into some kind of beacon of moral correctness. After witnessing this record of embarrassment and failure, these people have somehow concluded that the solution to the latest “problem” is to give Goodell an even bigger stick.

And what are Florio and his kind even hoping to accomplish, here? Let’s say Florio’s proposed draft-pick penalization plan were already in place—who is better off in this alternate reality? If teams had been scared away from signing McDonald, would not being in the NFL have prevented him from allegedly assaulting yet another woman? Or if the Bears had gone ahead and signed him, how exactly would the potential loss of a draft pick have helped them prevent this latest incident? “There are draft picks on the line now, Ray, so we’d really like it if you wouldn’t hit any women, OK?”

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As always, the only problem that’s begging for a solution here is one of appearances. In either reality, Ray McDonald is a bad person without a job, and he is so in this one because the Bears released him for being a bad person. The system worked! But in this fantasy land constructed by Goodell’s stooges, everyone gets to feel warm and fuzzy about the fact that the league’s square-jawed leader has taken yet another no-nonsense stand against things that are bad. The only people who would benefit under this proposal are a commissioner who’s only ever demonstrated a complete inability to effectively wield power, and a legion of reporters whose primary concern is to remain as uncritical of the league and their own thinking as possible.

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