clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Joe Gibbs is exhausted by trouble

Said Coach:

People are tired of getting up in the morning and picking up the paper and reading about somebody in trouble.

Let's face it: The only way you're going to get people's attention is you've got to be strong.

Speaking from experience, I've failed at getting people's attention throughout my entire life, and it just so happens I am ripped perhaps in need of work, physically.

Coach Gibbs is referring to Roger Goodell referring to Tank Johnson in his recent eight game suspension of Tank for a gun conviction. This comes shortly after a year long suspension of Pacman Jones (10 weeks actually, if he played his cards right) and of Chris Henry for eight games of the season for various infractions.

Pacman doesn't have many defenders out there, though here is one complements my blogging colleague Jimmy at Music City Miracles:

Maybe [Pacman] should look at getting convicted of something.  The commissioner handed Tank Johnson an eight game suspension today.  The suspension could be reduced to six games if Tank Johnson does not have any more incidents.  Johnson is also allowed to participate in offseason workouts and play in preseason games.

Let's break this down.  Chris Henry who has multiple convictions and incidents without convictions gets suspended for 8 games.  Tank Johnson, who was plead guilty to a handgun charge and later violated his probation, was suspended for what will probably end up being 6 games.  This doesn't make any sense.

That's a point that many Football fans are willing to purchase, as I've seen it expressed elsewhere. Notions of "fairness" get thrown out with frequency, though more likely they mean "consistency" since I have a hard time believing that anyone feels Pacman has been treated unfairly. More likely, they think Tank Johnson and Chris Henry have gotten off too easily.

This battle is raging in a very interesting discussion thread at Football Outsiders which, as usual, elevates the discussion (even while a few personal insults are slung).

Let's quickly dismiss any notion that Goodell was out-of-line. The CBA is an agreement between the NFLPA and the NFL. Pacman Jones is represented by the NFLPA and they signed the agreement on his behalf. Nothing Goodell has thus far done is in violation with that agreement, so let us move beyond arguing that Goodell unlawfully suspended anyone. He did not.

What people think he might have done improper was the length and severity of the punishments, and their relation to one another. As mentioned, Tank Johnson and Chris Henry were convicted of crimes. And, technically, Pacman Jones has never been convicted of a crime. He's been placed on probation, as in January of this year when he was given a six month probation for spitting on a woman in Tennessee. I'm no big city lawyer, though I imagine (allegedly!) smashing a stripper's head on stage and being identified with people at a club who ended up paralyzing somebody is probably a violation of said probation, especially after the Las Vegas Polidce Department advised the District Attorney to charge Pacman with felony coercion, among other things (like battery, for instance).

But none of this really matters as convictions aren't the litmus test by which the NFL operates nor have they ever been. I don't want to call them irrelevant, though I might as well as players are disciplined by the league for countless activities that do not involve any convictions. Employed reader(s) will know that criminal charges need not be issued to you for your employer to terminate your services lawfully and legally. As Roger Goodell pointed out, the Judicial System isn't his responsibility, rather the league is:

It's my job -- not law enforcement's job -- to protect the National Football League.
And that includes protecting its image, as any corporation (or employer) understands that image is important else consumers take their business elsewhere. If you are willing to admit nothing else, acknowledge that Tommy Urbanski, now paralyzed from the waist-down, probably has an altered opinion of the NFL and its employees thanks in no small part to the behavior of Pacman Jones. So do I.

And even if "convictions" were a litmus-test for suspensions, which I've suggested it isn't, it certainly wouldn't be the only one. There are other considerations in Jones' case, once you get past the severity in human suffering his behavior has caused, the unprecedented repeat offenses, the total and absolute lack of any sign of sincere contrition (evidenced by Jones' sheepish acknolwedgment to Roger Goodell at an April 3rd meeting to discuss his conduct -- a meeting he incidentally informed the Commissioner that he planned to amelerioate his behavior by, among other things, avoiding the "nightclub scene" -- that he visited a strip club within the past 24 hours. Some might call that lying...), even ignoring all that we can still make an exception out of Pacman Jones given that he failed to disclose two prior arrests to the Tennessee Titans. Which makes him an (alleged!) criminal and a fraud, as that is a violation of the NFL's Personal Conduct Policy:

Persons subject to this policy who are arrested or charged with Prohibited Conduct must report that incident to their Clubs or to NFL Security. Failure to report an incident will constitute conduct detrimental and will be taken into consideration in the final determination of discipline under this policy
And that is why the punishment is exceptional and rightly so. Pacman Jones' failure to properly report prior (alleged!) indiscretions challenges the NFL's ability to enforce its personal conduct policy, as it is predicated on honest disclosure.

Hogs Haven agrees with Coach Gibbs on this particular point, that punishment is severe in these cases as a punitive measure to rid the league of the growing perception of thuggery that has marred the NBA other professional sports. And, according to their Union Representative, the rest of the NFL agrees:

"Roger doesn't want to be the new sheriff in town, but he's faced with the reality that that's the way things are," Gene Upshaw, executive director of the NFL Players Assn., said Monday in a telephone interview. "And he has the support of the players."
Running Redskins, Portis: I didn't know . . . .