|Roger Goodell is proving to be tough on rule-breakers, period. (Getty Images)|
This has always been the perception players have had of Roger Goodell: He's brutally tough on them and soft on coaches and team executives. Players have long thought that coaches and general managers were Goodell's type of people and the players were not.
Wait. Let's be totally blunt here. Many black players have long believed Goodell was tougher on them than coaches and executives. This is the truth. It has been repeated over and over privately by players.
This has never been true, but perception kills. But what Goodell has done over the past few months and years should eradicate that belief forever. There are no favorites. Never have been, never will be. The Goodell Doctrine is in full effect as he continues to attack rule-breakers in such an aggressive and thorough manner, it may be unmatched in the recent history of professional sports.
|More on NFL|
|NFL coverage on the go|
And notice, no cheater has gone unscathed. He has gone after on-field cheap-shot artists with unprecedented vigor. He has punished players with an almost legendary steel fist. And Goodell isn't going solely after the men who actually play the game. He punished Rex Ryan for floating a middle finger to one obnoxious fan and then later fined Ryan for a foul-mouthed exchange with another. He's pursuing Super Bowl winning coaches (Sean Payton and Bountygate), league executives (Mickey Loomis from the Saints), and now two of the more storied franchises in football as Washington and Dallas will have millions of dollars in salary cap room yanked for trying to cheat the cap system.
A league official confirms a story first reported by ESPN that the NFL will dock Washington and Dallas millions in cap space, temporarily crippling both. But there's more to this story. I'm told the NFL warned both teams multiple times and the franchises went ahead and did the contracts anyway.
Officials from both teams told me privately there was no intention to cheat and that this was all a misunderstanding. Sure. OK. Right.
This is a continuation of the Goodell Doctrine that actually started with the New England Patriots and Spygate. There is no toleration of rule-breakers whether they be a high-profile player, a great coach like Bill Belichick, a GM or even Danny Snyder and Jerry Jones.
Or Mike Shanahan, multiple Super Bowl winner, who is Washington's executive vice president of football operations. Just to be clear: We don't know if Shanahan was involved in this situation with Washington. He may be totally innocent, but let's just say it did not go unnoticed by the league office that when Shanahan was coach in Denver, the Broncos in 2001 were fined $968,000 and lost a third-round pick in the 2002 draft for cap violations. They were accused of making deferred payments amounting to $29 million to quarterback John Elway and running back Terrell Davis. Just a few years later, the NFL fined the Broncos $950,000 and a third-round pick for similar violations.
Goodell doesn't fool around, and again, good for him. There is no more looking the other way. No more trying to pull a fast one past the league office. It's over. Done. This isn't the 1980s NFL. Not anymore.
In many ways, this is the golden era of the sport. The NFL has never been watched by more people or carried more influence. Truly, the only real threat to its longevity is the sport itself.
If the NFL can keep the degenerates and creeps from running things, from gaining a beachhead, then the NFL can move forward with cleaner hands. There is a fine line between legitimacy and pro wrestling, and Goodell is making sure the NFL doesn't cross it.
I remember a player asking me once: Who in the hell does Roger Goodell think he is? God?
No, he thinks he's the commissioner, and what happened to the Redskins and Cowboys is yet another example of the Goodell Doctrine…
If you cheat, watch your back.