NFL’s Inconsistent Disciplining Reaches New Heights

Any day now Roger Goodell is going to receive a contract extension worth nearly $50 million a year.  Plus a Dostoyevsky novel-sized list of perks.

Meanwhile his league is running amok and being run amok. Monday Night Football’s Steelers-Bengals slugfest illustrated that no matter how many safety rules are implemented the NFL at its core is a bastion for violence.

Goodell, who took over as commissioner eleven years ago with a promise to police players, has done just that but in stunningly egregious and inconsistent fashion. The league especially mucked up its punishments over the past 24 hours.

Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski was suspended just one-game for diving toward and striking Tre’Davious White’s head while White was on ground after no defensive holding was called. White was forced to enter concussion protocol after the very intentional hit.

Fast forward to the nastiness of Monday Night Football melee doubling as a football game where JuJu Smith-Schuster and George Iloka were each suspended a game for in action vicious hits.

Smith-Schuster laid into Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict during a block and then taunted him before Burfict had to be carted off the field. Iloka’s helmet charged into Antonio Brown’s as the receiver was catching a touchdown in the end zone.

Smith-Schuster’s block was fair but the taunting was a bonafide cheap shot. Iloka’s hit was reckless though it did happen in game action where players are reacting in milliseconds, not actual seconds.

If Smith-Schuster and Iloka deserve a game, and I believe they do, Gronkowksi deserves four or six or some number that is far greater than the other two suspended players. Gronk’s act came after the whistle, making it premeditated. Anyone who understands the speed of the game knows the difference. Doling out the exact same suspension to these three players is unconscionable and completely undermines the credibility of the league office.

It gets worse when you juxtapose these suspensions to some recent high profile violations of the personal conduct policy. Josh Brown, arrested for repeated domestic violence, was suspended the exact number of games as a player who, while trying to make a play, hit a player with the wrong part of his body. Then there’s Tom Brady’s four-game suspension for I’m still not sure what entirely. It almost seems punishments are determined by a giant suspension dartboard in the league office as opposed to logic and reason.

According to ESPN’s Stats and Information Department, the NFL has suspended players 10 times this season for on-field conduct, the most in the Roger Goodell Era. He is certainly the ultimate policeman but he and the league seem to have consistent clue as to what they are supposed to be policing.