By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Do not mess with the integrity of the game, or else you’ll have to feel the wrath of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
By now, everyone knows this. But Goodell made it clear to the New York Cheatin’ Giants on Friday by dropping perhaps his heaviest hammer of justice yet.
For the crime of using walkie-talkies to communicate during a game against the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium when the Giants experienced some technical problems with their coach-to-QB communication system, Goodell moved the Giants’ fourth-round draft pick to … 10 spots lower in the fourth round.
Justice has been served.
This is, of course, entirely a farce. And it is the latest example of Goodell ruling however he wants to rule based on the team in question.
What’s most perplexing about this instance is that no investigation was necessary. Head coach Ben McAdoo used the walkie-talkie in plain view, and it aired on the TV broadcast.
Even Ted Wells can see that one. And he wouldn’t even need to confiscate someone’s private cell phone and then publish his private text messages to see that one. The investigation is closed before it’s even opened.
But additionally, there’s this: illegally using a walkie-talkie in order to communicate with your quarterback in the middle of a game provides more of an advantage in a game than does the filming of coaches who are giving signals from the sideline. The thing is, what got overlooked in the Spygate hysteria, is that … the coaches in question were giving these signals in plain view. People could see them. In fact, the Patriots were free to film them if they wanted to; they just had to do the filming from specified locations.
So, in the controversy known as “Spygate,” it was not illegal to film coaches on the sidelines. It was merely a technicality regarding the location of that filming. The Patriots got hammered for ignoring a memo from the league office — a memo which said, essentially, “knock it off.”
On the contrary, the NFL strictly forbids the use of a walkie-talkie on the sideline. As Mike Florio reported, the NFL “made it clear that the coach cannot use the walkie-talkie, in any way.” This mandate came in the form of a … memo from the league office.
Both cases are pretty black-and-white. And yet, here’s the discrepancy in penalties:
PATRIOTS IN 2007-08
Stripped of first-round pick (first time in NFL history)
$500,000 fine for Bill Belichick (largest ever fine of a head coach in NFL history)
$250,000 fine for Patriots
GIANTS IN 2016-17
Fourth-round draft pick moved from No. 130 to No. 140 overall
$150,000 fine for Giants
$50,000 fine for Ben McAdoo
Slight discrepancy there, no?
Perhaps it would be more difficult to speculate that perhaps Goodell is playing favorites if the commissioner had not gone out of his way to try to help the Giants avoid any and all issues with Josh Brown during the former Giants kicker’s issues with domestic violence. Had Goodell not worked with the Giants to bypass the automatic six-game suspension which Goodell instituted himself, had Goodell not personally worked to drop that suspension to just one game in hopes of sweeping it all under the rug, then maybe — just maybe — nobody would accuse him of favoritism with regard to the New York Giants.
But he did.
And so, here we are.