Congratulations, National Football League. You had an opportunity to admit that you screwed up and do the right thing, and you chose to blame somebody else for your own ineptitude. Or, to put it more accurately, six somebodies.
Yes, after they ingested a supplement that the National Football League knew contained a banned substance, and after the National Football League failed to disclose this fact to their players, the National Football League has suspended six players for violating the league's performance enhancing drug policy. Six players who have never in their lives ever taken a performance enhancing drug.
The NFL completely and totally mishandled this case in so many ways that it's damn near comical. Let's see if we can count the ways, shall we?
First of all, the league allowed this to get out into the public eye before anything had been decided in the appeals process. This in an of itself is a gross violation of the NFL's substance abuse policy. The players in this matter had their right to privacy completely destroyed by some idiot reporter who placed a higher degree of importance on "scooping" the competition than actually following the rules. An idiot reporter who, to my knowledge, has still not been disciplined for this violation in any way by their employer or the National Football League.
Maybe I'm a little more sensitive about this aspect of it because of the career field I'm a part of, but in my line of work, if we disclose sensitive or classified information, bad things happen. The Williams Wall and the three Saints players that got hit with this deserved the same level of privacy and respect that every other player in the league that's ever broken this rule has, and it wasn't given to them.
Then, of course, there's the fact that the league knew that the StarCaps supplement contained a banned substance and failed to actually tell anybody that this was the case. The NFL dodged a real bullet here, as no physical harm actually came to any of the players involved. But, the NFL being who they are and completely lacking the ability to admit when they've made an error in judgement, have decided that the best course of action would be to punish the victims of the league's stupidity rather than actually tell anybody that they were wrong about anything.
I guess it really will take another Korey Stringer incident in order to make the NFL see their errors. . .and that's really, really pathetic and sad. Then again, Roger Goodell strikes me as the kind of guy that would probably get a good laugh out of a Korey Stringer joke or two.
On the bright side, from a football standpoint, Pat and Kevin Williams being suspended isn't going to make Green Bay's defense not suck any more. Seriously, 86 points allowed over the last two weeks? Really? I've had Packer fans e-mailing me and telling me all season about how awesome the Green Bay defense is. And, really, why wouldn't they? After all, they've only given up about a field goal per game more this season than Minnesota has, and that takes into account all the touchdowns that opposing defenses and special teams have scored against the Vikings.
It's also not going to change the fact that Chicago's defense isn't nearly what it used to be either, or that they have Kyle Orton at quarterback. And it really, really doesn't change the fact that the best player in the National Football League still lines up behind Gus Frerotte between 35 and 40 times on any given Sunday afternoon. Yes, this is a huge blow to the Vikings, but there are two other teams in the NFC North race that, as of now, still have to look up to see Minnesota in the standings, and who have plenty of problems of their own to worry about.
No, ladies and gentlemen, the only recourse that this team has now is to get themselves an NFC North division title without Pat and Kevin Williams in the middle, which would really give Roger Goodell and the rest of the empty suits at the NFL offices something to cry about. Of course, at that point, it wouldn't surprise me to see Goodell attempt to suspend them again. Why? Because. . .
Get up, get get, get down. . .Roger Goodell is a joke in your town.
So what, exactly, are we looking at over the next four weeks? We'll examine that a bit more closely in the next post. However, at first blush, things don't appear to be as dire as we might initially think.