By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Ben McAdoo is a rookie head coach with no prior transgressions on his record, but the New York Giants coach brazenly violated NFL rules when he illegally used a walkie-talkie to communicate with quarterback Eli Manning after the Giants’ sideline communication system broke down last Sunday night against the Dallas Cowboys. The NFL has made its decision on how to discipline McAdoo and the team for the clear rule violation.
The Giants have been fined $150,000 and McAdoo has been fined $50,000 for using the walkie-talkie, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The team has also had its 2017 fourth-round pick moved to the end of the round. Pro Football Talk had previously reported that discipline from the league office was expected to come on Tuesday.
McAdoo’s walkie-talkie allowed the coach to potentially communicate with Manning after there were under 15 seconds left on the play clock, which is explicitly against NFL rules. Teams’ official sideline communications systems, which are operated by the NFL, are typically cut off with 15 seconds left on the play clock or once the ball is snapped, whichever comes first.
Former NFL coach Tony Dungy recently said on the NFL Network’s Football Night in New York that he and the league have historically considered using a walkie-talkie a “very serious” violation. He believes that there would have been “owners calling the league office the next day” had McAdoo and the Giants been hit with just a small fine. Dungy also said that during his time as a head coach in the NFL, the league made it clear to every coach that walkie-talkies are not allowed and that violations would be taken very seriously.
Dungy has not coached since 2008, so it’s unclear whether the NFL has softened its stance on walkie-talkies in recent years. But the fact is that they are still explicitly against the rules, and using one to communicate with you QB outside of the legally allowed time frame could give your team a significant competitive advantage. The league’s relatively sizable fine and downgraded draft pick indicates that they viewed this as more than just a minor transgression.
It’s already clear that the NFL league office was not interested in going after the Giants or penalizing McAdoo as vigorously as they pursued the Patriots to punish them over DeflateGate, or even SpyGate. But based on Dungy’s comments, the walkie-talkie violation is one that would have raised eyebrows across the league if the punishment were no more than a small fine.
Since McAdoo is in his first year as a head coach, it’s unclear whether he even knew he was breaking the rules. It’s also unknown how or why the walkie-talkie in question was connected to the Giants’ sideline communication system in the first place. But one thing is clear: there is irrefutable video evidence that he did it, and that alone left him at the mercy of Goodell. In this case, he couldn’t exactly deny it or fight the league on the matter. Just lay down and take it.
The question is, did they have to take enough? And would the league have handled this the same way with the other 31 teams?
Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.