NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is given the authority by the collective bargaining agreement to wield unyielding power in any way he sees fit when punishing players but a recent NFL statement shined a bright light on the hypocrisy of their ways on Monday.
According to a report from Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, the NFL released a statement about Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam’s role in the Pilot Flying J scandal and any intention they might have of punishing him for conduct detrimental to the league for his behavior surrounding that case. And it lacked all self-awareness.
“No prosecuting authority has found reason to bring charges against Mr. Haslam,” an unnamed official said. “So that’s where we leave it.”
Yet, Goodell routinely doles out punishment to players for their roles in legal matters where they’re not charged or found guilty of any criminal offense. And this could be the slipperiest stepping stone yet for Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
Jones is furious with Goodell over how the investigation into alleged domestic violence by Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was handled. Elliott wasn’t charged by the Columbus City Attorney’s Office, but the NFL saw fit to suspend him for six games anyways.
Meanwhile, executives at Pilot Flying J, a truck stop chain that Haslam’s father founded and he currently operates as CEO, have been federally indicted on charges of fraud for a phony rewards program the company implemented and those executives claim that Haslam knew about the scam. However, the federal government hasn’t charged Haslam in connection with the alleged crimes yet.
However, Haslam’s behavior surrounding the case has undoubtedly been detrimental to the overall perception of the league and the NFL is now taking legal cover when questioned about why Haslam hasn’t been punished. And that puts Jones in the precarious situation.
Jones would love to do just about anything to discredit Goodell, but attacking his decision not to punish a fellow owner with any success would expose his own flank and the flanks of the other league owners in the process. It proves that Elliott was treated unfairly but it could lead to Jones being punished by the NFL for something somewhere down the road.
The NFL has rules in place to punish owners and preserve the so-called integrity of the shield, but unlike the players, they can actually bite back if Goodell oversteps his boundaries. So he’s steering clear.
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