The hot off-season topic saturating the round tables and op-ed pieces is the players conduct. Both Gene Upshaw and Roger Goodell are addressing the question: What to do about it? Don't you get the impression they are both afraid of being tough and completely clueless? Then again, I've never given Goodell much credit.
We know that "Justice" is bent to accommodate celebrities. Indiana Prosecutors allowed two Pacer players to play a game the same night they were told to surrender to authorities. Why? Because he's a Pacers fan. From Indy Cornrows.
Tank Johnson, with enough ammo to defend the entire city of Chicago against a Red Army invasion, was allowed to leave the state to play in the Super Bowl. You and I? HAH! There is no situation that you and I would be given the same accommodation.
But to simplify it, what about work? If you're caught with a weapons depot, you'll probably get fired. If you're caught five billion times being in the wrong place at the wrong time, you'll probably be fired. If you get busted with drugs, likely you're fired. If you get a DUI, you'll likely get reprimanded, then fired -- depending on the company's visibility.
My point is if Upshaw and Goodell want to stem players conduct, don't make an example nor threaten. Just expel them from the league. A radical idea would be banning them for life; but I also believe in second chances. So ban a player for two seasons without pay -- on the first major offense. But what's a major offense? Drug trafficking, anything with weapons, battery and spousal abuse (honor should be a key ingredient) are good places to start. But I will leave the guidelines to those with six figure salaries. Of course, all this would presume the courts judge players on equal footing as you and I would be.
The player is then reinstated after the second banned season (a 32-game suspension). I figure this works because two years is a good sample for a troubled player's progress -- or degress. If he progresses and embraces model citizen expectations, he'll work to return. If not, he'll be gone and others, with better class, will replace them. If you return and fall into trouble again, you're gone. Banned for life.
I don't believe the league should be a social service for the troubled. The government spends millions of our tax dollars providing those services. I do believe in second chances. I also believe that those that bomb their opportunity by doing felonious things, that others salavating at a roster spot, should be given that chance.
Dear Players: The league doesn't need you. You need the league.
There's plenty of players out there that live with class and honor. Those guys should be given a chance to compete and flourish. The league doesn't need, nor want, thuggery. So get rid of them and give lesser known players the reward of playing in place of the guy that embarrasses everyone else.
But I know my world is fiction. I don't expect Goodell to do anything that would compromise the peace between league and union. And I know Upshaw would be too worried about the interpretation of what's considered a major offense -- basically stalling tactics. That's why I believe any and all talk from either is "PR" to make fans believe they are "going to do something about it." Sorry for being cynical, but I'm not confident the league will do much.