Hate Mail: Headed straight to ...
The latest laughingstock out of Oakland isn't all that funny. The Raiders' head coach presumably punched an assistant in the face -- hard enough to send him to the hospital. That's assault. That's battery. It's disturbing.
But it's not the NFL's business.
|Is NFL discipline looming for Tom Cable and the Raiders? It shouldn't be. (Getty Images)|
Goodell decides that a multi-game suspension should be tacked onto the prison sentence of Michael Vick, who had organized a dogfighting ring. Goodell outlaws most end zone celebrations and all in-game Twittering. He has his finger in all sorts of pies, does Roger Goodell, and the NFL is the better for it.
But not here. Not this. Not Tom Cable punching out Randy Hanson -- or flipping him out of a chair and into a cabinet, as some reports indicate.
And my position here has nothing to do with my suspicion that Hanson deserved to be punched out. That guy strikes me as a weasel of the first order, considering this is the second time he has been involved in a high-profile dispute with his head coach, and considering that the last time -- last season, when Hanson badmouthed Lane Kiffin -- Raiders owner Al Davis supported Hanson over Kiffin.
Hanson is nobody. He does nothing. Here's his résumé, and it's pathetic. He doesn't have a title beyond "defensive assistant," a title given to guys who are on the payroll because of their prowess at kissing someone's ass. Apparently, where Hanson's lips are concerned, that ass belongs to Al Davis.
But that's not why Goodell should butt out.
Goodell should butt out because this is not an NFL issue -- it's an Oakland Raiders issue. Granted, since the Raiders are a member of the NFL, everything that happens involving the Raiders or any other team is technically an "NFL issue." But the NFL allows teams to decide on ticket prices and concession offerings and depth charts and hirings and firings. Those are team issues, and team issues only. The NFL butts out.
But not here. The NFL has announced that it is looking into the Cable-Hanson fight, and since the league is going to be such a buttinsky in Oakland, maybe it should go all the way and figure out why the Raiders used the seventh overall pick this year to draft a receiver who can't receive.
Or the NFL could just leave this alone. Tom Cable works for the Raiders. Randy Hanson works for, or at least draws a paycheck from, the Raiders. If Cable punched out Hanson, that's a dilemma for the Raiders to deal with. Granted, that's asking a lot of Al Davis. First, it's asking him to be alert enough to know who Tom Cable is. Then it's asking him to be disciplined enough to mete out some sort of punishment -- whether it's to Hanson for starting the fight, or to Cable for ending it, or to both. Or to neither. Whatever Davis does, or doesn't do, this is an Oakland Raiders deal.
Some of you will disagree on the grounds of the NFL's personal conduct policy, which allows Goodell to discipline players, coaches or even front-office personnel for any number of transgressions, including the suspensions of Stallworth and Vick. One coach punching out another is an example of personal misconduct. I'll give you that.
But this is not an area the NFL has ever dabbled before. When Oilers defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan punched offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride on the sideline, in full view of a stadium, the NFL did nothing. That was 1994, more than a decade before Goodell replaced Paul Tagliabue, so here's a more relevant example: When Panthers receiver Steve Smith punched out teammate Ken Lucas in the 2008 preseason, Goodell was the commissioner. And he did nothing. That was a Panthers issue, and the Panthers handled it the way they saw fit -- by suspending Smith for two games.
Now it's the Raiders' turn. They should be able to handle Cable and Hanson the way they see fit, without Goodell's help. I'd like to be on record as saying the meanest thing Goodell could do to both guys is to not suspend them. To the contrary, they should be forced to stand on the sideline for all 16 games while Cable coaches and Hanson "assists" what could be the worst team in the NFL. The quarterback is terrible. The tailbacks are decent at best. The receivers are horrible. Unless the defense holds opponents to a touchdown, Oakland won't win many games, if any games, and Hanson is a defensive assistant -- which tells me that side of the ball is screwed already. Giving either of them a suspension would be like giving them a vacation.
But that's not the point. The point is, Roger Goodell has done incredible work as he leads the NFL, but in this, like in most things, there would be a tipping point -- a point where he does too much. A point where the NFL becomes a socialist state or even a monarchy under the rule of a nosy, if benevolent, monarch.
Don't be that monarch, Goodell.
Sit this one out.