Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Proposal for the NFL

The NFL insists on acting extrajudicially and punishing players for off field incidents. Their current method has commissioner Roger Goodell play the role of judge, jury and executioner. Goodell's punishments often seem arbitrary and ill-fitting of the crime. This current system is failing and it needs reformed. Even the NFL admits this. There are two straight forward things they can do to fix the system and quickly. The first thing to do create a clear detailed player misconduct code. Second up is creating an independent  committee to review incidents and administer punishments.

Since Hammurabi had some subjects chisel his code into stone, the rule of law has worked to stabilize society.  If done correctly a criminal code provides citizens with a clear and defined set of rules and subsequent punishments for breaking them. The Ray Rice scandal exposed the current state the NFL personal misconduct policy for failing to do exactly that.

Despite having detailed and strictly enforced policy related to marijuana, the NFL didn't have a policy for the much more egregious offense of domestic violence. The league's policy for domestic violence relied on Commissioner Goodell reviewing each case and deciding individual punishment. This is ridiculous. It opens up the system for inconsistency and accusations of bias. A detailed set of rules would protect the NFL and the players. It would provide fans with a sense of understanding and lessons the pull of punishment by populist sentiment.

The NFL should work with the NFL Players Association to develop a clear set of rules that players must abide by. Once this list is finished the two groups will need to decide on an appropriate range of punishment for breaking each rule. A range is important to allow the severity of the offense to be considered. An outside group should be brought in the review and approve the conduct code. Bring in a non-advocate to review the proposed code would help to eliminate situations where the crime doesn't match the punishment.

Once you have the law written you need someone to enforce it, which brings us to the second easy fix. In his current role, Goodell has mixed priorities that cloud his judgment. He is focused on making the NFL heaping piles of cash, which is fine. That is what he was hired to do. However, it creates a conflict of interest when he is asked to pass judgment on players. Instead an independent board  should be created that answers no one else. This boards RAA should be to sentence players for breaking a clearly defined personal conduct policy and hearing  and reviewing appeals. This board must remain independent from the commissioner's office to avoid coercive influence. The commissioners only role with this board should be nominating new members. Those members should have to be approved by the NFL Players Association.


As the NFL continues with their self-examination after the recent spate of scandals there are two ideas that should be implemented. The first is a clear conduct code with detailed punishment ranges and the second is an independent administer of those punishments. Each would work to protect the players and the NFL from future scandals and work to regain trust with the media and fans.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Blame Ray Rice and the Police


NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has been in the news a lot lately because of his response to Ray Rice's public domestic violence case. The assault, perpetrated by Rice against his fiancee, Janay Palmer, was captured on hotel security cameras and brought to the public attention by the media.  It rightly brought to the forefront the issue of women's rights and spousal abuse. A lot of the anger and outrage at this event has been focused on Ray Rice, I won't argue against that. However, others are pushing farther and attacking the NFL and the commissioner Roger Goodell. They are calling for Goodell's ouster and boycotts of the league. I think this anger  is misguided. The blame for this crime should be placed squarely on Rice's shoulders. The outrage at the failure to properly punish the running back should be directed at the criminal justice system, not the NFL or commissioner Goodell.

The root of the NFL's current scandal is years in the making and started when the NFL made a conscious decision to become the morality police. In Roger Goodell's words they had to "protect the shield". Commissioner Goodell  started suspending players for actions that he deemed as detrimental to the NFL brand. Drunk driving, smoking weed, end zone dances, and publicly speaking out against referee all became common reasons to get suspended. By reaching out from his area of expertise (i.e. regulating professional football games and seasons) and trying to act as an arbiter of justice Goodell set himself up for scrutiny and scandal.

When he decided to start punishing players for their off field acts he should have considered all the areas of potential problems. He should have worked with the NFL Players Association to document and define exactly what the punishments for different crimes are. These guidelines should have been strictly followed. Considering that NFL players commit domestic violence at a higher rate the general population he should have seen this coming. Because they decided adjudicate off field incidences outside of the legal system, the NFL should have had a clear policy to deal with domestic violence. They did not.

Until recently the NFL's policy on domestic abuse relied on the personal conduct policy. Each case was reviewed by the commissioner's office and punishment was decided on an individual basis. However, this offseason, the suspensions of Josh Gordon and Ray Rice highlighted the ridiculousness of this policy as Gordon received a season long ban for smoking weed while Rice received a two game suspension for beating is finance (now wife) unconscious, spitting on her and dragging her out of an elevator. The crimes and their respective punishments were clearly disproportionate. They needlessly set themselves up for this controversy. What Goodell and the NFL are guilty of is being completely arbitrary and random in how they dish out justice to different crimes and overreaching their authority to try and play the law.

The NFL shouldn't be the judge when it comes to criminal punishment. They shouldn't be making the calls between innocence and guilt. This should remain the domain of the police and court system. The NFL isn't suited to be a judge of moral character and they should not have to be. In the United States we have a legal system to do this. The legislative branch of government passes laws, executive branch enables them and the judicial branch enforces them. The NFL doesn't fall into any of those branches. By dishing out punishment to players for being a bad person isn't the NFL's job. It is the legal systems job.

In the case of Ray Rice it is not the NFL's  that failed so terribly, it is the police and court systems in New Jersey that failed. Rice should have been charged with a crime. He should have faced trial. Assaulting his fiancĂ©e should be a serious matter. The Police should have investigated and pressed charges, even if Janay Palmer didn't want to. We need victim protection laws for this very reason. The real organization we should be mad at is the local law enforcement. The New Jersey criminal justice system failed the American people. We should be demanding that our court systems work for the betterment of society and the protection of the innocent.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Seahawks Season Preview: Divisional Opponents


As previously discussed, the ten non-divisional opponents in 2014 are no pushovers. The Packers, Chargers, Broncos, Panthers, Chiefs, and Eagles all made the post season last year and could give the Seahawks real tests (well I guess not the Packers ;) ). The other six games, against the NFC West teams, will be even tougher. Over the last few years the NFC West has turned into a hard hitting defense first division. All four teams feature formidable defenses capable of shutting down the league's best teams. This mean the quality of the four offenses are probably going to decide most games. This is a major plus for the Seahawks, who feature the divisions best running back, arguably the best quarter back and a top set of receivers. The Seahawks are going to have to rely on these guys to get the job done against the Rams, Cardinals, and 49ers.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Seahawks Season Preview: Non Divisional Opponents

The Seahawks enter the 2014 season in a position only one other professional men's sports franchise ever has in Seattle history. They are the defending league champions! THEY WON THE FREAKING SUPER BOWL!!! That means everyone else in the NFL is going to be gunning for our team. They are going to bring their best and look to dethrone the champs.

The thing is the NFL only has 16 regular season games and 6 of them are against divisional opponents, the same three teams we see every year and we will cover those guys in a different post. That means only 10 of the remaining 28 NFL teams get a shot at the champs. So, who are these insolent groups that dare challenge the kings of the NFL? Let's take a look at them.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Another Dave Sims Classic

If you read this blog often you probably know that we aren't big fans of Dave Sims being the Seattle Mariners TV play-by-play guy. He just doesn't do a very good job. That being said listen in to this Dave Sims classic. It happened this year in a game against the Yankees.


Saturday, August 2, 2014

Minor League Baseball Pay


A recent article in ESPN Magazine by Mina Kimes enlightened me to the plight of most minor league players. These young men barely make a living wage. In fact many of them live at or below the poverty line while playing minor league baseball. This is especially disheartening when you read that MLB pulled in $8 billion in gross revenue last year and, according to Kimes, it would cost each major league team only about an extra $1 millions to give all their minor leaguers a $5000 annual raise (major league teams pay the minor league players).

Minor league players only work for their teams 5-6 months a year and they only get checks during the season.  During the off-season they are not getting paid by MLB. However, most of these guys are still working on their baseball careers. They go to the gym and work out. They take hitting and fielding practice. They are trying to better themselves and by extension their big league team. This extra work is not technically required, but teams and fans expect it and the fierce competition for major league jobs demand it.

Most of the arguments against giving the prospects a raise center around the tradition of the minor leagues. It basically boils down to a feeling that minor league players should put in their time and take their lumps because that is what the current major league players did. This is a bogus argument. Just because one group had to suffer does not mean another has to. It is like your parents saying you cannot get a drivers license until you are 18 because they had to wait that long. The goal of each generation should be to better itself.

It is time for MLB to give the minor league players a pay raise.

Sources:

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Jacque Jones Got a HoF Vote, Seriously

I was reading a Fangraphs article, by Tony Blengino, about the recent changes to the Baseball Hall of Fame voting rules. His article focused on the large amount of players currently sitting in the HoF eligibility pool and whether the new rules will impact that pool's size. His article also provided a list of the players receiving votes in 2014. A different version of the 2014 HoF voting can be seen on Baseball-Reference.com. On this list there were 19 players in their first year of eligibility. 14 of these players did not receive enough votes to return to the ballot next year. Six players did not receive any votes. However the big shocker here was one of the players that did receive a vote, Jacque Jones.

Don't feel bad if you are asking yourself who exactly Jacque Jones is. Unless you are a fan of the Twins or Cubs, or you played a lot of 2000 MLB Showdown, you probably never had reason to know who he was. You might even think I am misspelling his first name repeatedly, but I am not. Let me enlighten you about Jones' baseball career. He was an outfielder with a career triple slash of .277/.326/.448 who spent the majority of his career in Minnesota. His best single year in the Bigs was 2002, when he batted .300 hit 27 homers, good for a 121 wRC+. He only spent 10 years in the majors and only had two, maybe three, years worthy of All-Star consideration. Those stats don't cry Hall of Famer to me. In fact they barely scream anything.

Whoever it was that voted for Jacque Jones must have had an ulterior motive. Maybe Jones' uncle is part of the BBWA and has a HoF vote. Maybe one of the Twins writers just really loved interacting with Jones during his tenure with the team. Who knows? The point is Jacque Jones actually got a HoF vote.