Six more shopping days for scumbags, and as Saturday's NFL Draft approaches, you know they're out there -- the scumbags, yes, but also the NFL teams that will risk draft picks and the league's reputation on them.
|If Brandon Meriweather steps out of line, the NFL team that drafts him should pay. (Getty Images)|
And let's rip the ever-loving crap out of any NFL team that would select one of them.
This is a new era for the NFL under Roger Goodell, who has brought new spine to the commissioner's office and is capitalizing on the lack of spine in the players union. Goodell dealt with Pacman Jones and Chris Henry in the only way men like that understand -- by pulling out his brass knuckles. Jones will miss the 2007 season for being a recidivist scumbag. Henry will miss half a season for being half as big a scumbag. In this case, half is a whole lot.
That's great. More power to Roger Goodell. But with the 2007 draft coming, with a fresh new round of scumbags set to enter the league, more needs to be done to clean up the NFL -- and here in this story I'll tell you what needs to be done, and why. Your only responsibility is to listen thoughtfully and to not tell me you've heard this idea before. Because you haven't. Nobody likes a liar. Go stand in the corner. For everyone else ...
When a player misbehaves off the field to the level of Jones or Henry -- to the level of earning a game(s) suspension under the NFL's new conduct policy -- the player's team must be punished, too. And it would be so easy and so simple to do. Check this out:
Any time an NFL player gets suspended for off-field misconduct, his team loses one of its 53 active roster spots. This would be a policy going forward, but let's say there's another Chris Henry, suspended for half a season. His team would have to play eight games with 52 active players. The next Pacman Jones would cost his team an entire season with 52.
If a second player from the same franchise gets suspended, that team is down to 51 active players. And then 50. And 49 and so forth.
If those were the stakes, do you think NFL teams would continue to talk about character with one side of their mouth and sign Jason Berryman with the other? Sorry to rail on the Bengals -- at this point it feels like piling on -- but on the same January day that coach Marvin Lewis was announcing plans to build with better citizens than Chris Henry, the Bengals signed Berryman, the former Iowa State linebacker who has spent 258 days in jail. On the same day.
If those were the stakes, would NFL teams allow another Chris Henry to be arrested four times in seven months without being released, creating a consequence-free atmosphere that has contributed to an astounding nine Bengals being arrested in nine months? Would an NFL team allow Pacman Jones to spiral out of control, unchecked, one police incident at a time?
Hell no. Punish the player and his team, and the NFL won't be popular for just one day a week -- and loathed the other six.
Every NFL franchise must be held responsible. There will always be unforeseeable letdowns -- who knew 2007 messiah Calvin Johnson would allegedly cop to smoking pot? -- but the draft is where every team's commitment to character begins, or ends.
If a player is bad news in college, odds are he'll be bad news in the NFL. It's a simple equation. Start with a known character risk, add money and free time, subtract the college support system ... and what do you have?