When the lockout ends (hopefully sometime this week), NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's going to have some work to do. He earlier vowed that he'd hold players accountable for their offseason conduct, which means that fines and suspensions could be in order for those players who have misbehaved.
The case of James Harrison will be an interesting one. He wasn't arrested and he didn't hurt anyone. The only rules he broke were the ones of basic human decency. When Goodell gets in one of his "I'm going to fine everyone" moods, will Harrison get one?
Via NFL.com, Mike Vrabel(notes), former linebacker and current NFLPA advocate, says that the organization "would have an issue" if Harrison is formally punished by the league.
"Roger's got big shoulders, Roger understands," Vrabel said. "I would say to Roger or anybody else that had a problem with it, I would say what Bill (Belichick) said to us: To (those who) much is given, much is expected. And Roger is given a lot in form of compensation and being in the situation that he's in so there's a lot expected of him. And if that means taking the higher road and calling James and trying to figure out how to get this thing settled between them or whatever issue they have going on."
I'm going to go ahead and disagree with Vrabel here. Is he actually suggesting that Roger Goodell call James Harrison(notes) and say, "Hey buddy, this is Roger, the guy you wouldn't pee on if he were burning alive in front of you. I really just want to get this thing straightened out and be friends."
It's not Roger Goodell's job to make sure James Harrison feels all warm and fuzzy inside. It's not his job to get along with James Harrison. It's his job to protect the league's image and make decisions for the good of the NFL. There's nothing to "settle" between Goodell and Harrison; there's only the league and what's best for it.
That being the case, I don't know how Goodell could see a player calling him a (homophobic slur that rhymes with "maggot") and posing with a couple of firearms as a good thing for the National Football League.
I'm not sure why it's OK (or even legal) for Goodell to punish people for their actions during a time when they weren't actually being paid, but if it's somehow decided that he can do that, then Harrison belongs on the list for punishment. There may be a point buried somewhere within his tirade, but the actual words that came out of his mouth are not OK.
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