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Lorton: NFL should count its blessings (Sept. 13)

Isaac Lorton | Friday, September 13, 2013


Being the commissioner of a professional sport must be hard. 

No one thought the NFL would have a bigger disciplinary story after Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick’s dog fighting incident or Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Plaxico Burress’ leg-shooting shenanigans, but former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez did not want to be outdone.

Roger Goodell must have woken up that morning and started bawling because he had another scandal of monstrous proportions on his hands. I wouldn’t blame the guy if he did. 

This off-season, all he wanted to do was to write a $765 million check to the NFL Players Association to settle a head trauma-related lawsuit and get ready for the season, but Hernandez stopped that from happening. 

And to add to his stress, not even one week into the season, Goodell had to review Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller’s driving record because Miller does not seem to ever have his license, registration or insurance when he is speeding down the roads of Colorado. Goodell must decide whether or not he needs to punish him further because Miller is currently serving a six-game suspension for violating the NFL drug policy. 

Goodell has also fined Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh $100,000 for spearing Minnesota Vikings center John Sullivan below the knees. It was definitely a cheap shot, and the league considered suspensions given Suh’s questionable history but instead handed out the most substantial player safety-related fine in league history.

It really has been quite a summer for Roger Goodell, but what would happen if, let’s say, MLB commissioner Bud Selig were to take the reins of the NFL? 

Imagine that.

For starters, Miller would be playing right now because Selig does not have a very good track record when it comes to drug policies. Selig would much rather have his players smoking marijuana than using creams or lozenges or injecting steroids, HGH and PEDs. Selig would be thrilled if his players only took Adderall like Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman did. And on top of that, Miller has broken the league’s substance abuse policy only once. If Selig were the commissioner, Miller would have at least two more first-time offenses before he even showed up on the radar of the head office. And even if Selig cared about marijuana use in the NFL, it would take him 20 years, multiple scandals and a congressional investigation to even set up a viable, standardized drug policy.

As far as the Suh case goes, Selig would have fined Sullivan for being an instigator and kneeing Suh in the head. Remember in mid-June when the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers began to brawl and Diamondbacks infielder Eric Hinske was trying to break up the fight before he was sucker-punched by Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig? Well, Selig sees things quite differently. Hinske was suspended five games for “aggressive actions,” while Puig received a minimal fine. Based on Selig’s thought process, Sullivan should be the one fined for “uncontrolled unawareness.” 

If Selig were the commissioner, the NFL would still have the $765 million in its pockets. You don’t see Selig giving retired pitchers money for all of their Tommy John surgeries and arm injuries. He believes they have already been compensated -what else do they need? Selig’s philosophy is to just call up the next righty from the bullpen or the minors – either option works – and move on.  

Yet the biggest issue Selig would have to tackle is the NFL gambling problem. Have you heard? Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and San Francisco 49er’s quarterback Colin Kaepernick bet one eyebrow on their upcoming game. If both Wilson and Kaepernick had played baseball under Selig, they would have lost a shot at the Hall of Fame. According to Selig, gambling is the worst crime in sports. Not only does the public know about the bet, but it also involves each player’s own team! Selig would have none of that if he were the commissioner of the NFL.

Thank the sports gods he’s not.   

Contact Isaac Lorton at ilorton@nd.edu

The views expressed in this Sports Authority are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.