New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo used a walkie-talkie for four plays during the Giants’ win over the Dallas Cowboys on Dec. 11, in direct violation of NFL rules. And on Tuesday the NFL handed down its punishment: McAdoo was fined $50,000 and the Giants were fined $150,000. Also, the Giants’ fourth-round draft pick in 2017 will be moved to the back of the round, after compensatory selections (a maximum of 12 spots).
Suddenly the NFL’s idea of a torture device is to break out the comfy pillows. In our opinion, Deflategate has left Roger Goodell an impotent, broken man.
Compare the McAdoo/Giants punishment to:
* Then-Browns GM Ray Farmer, who violated an in-game communications rule by texting the coaching staff during a game in March of 2015. He was suspended for four games.
* In 2007, Patriots coach Bill Belichick was fined $500,000 (the maximum allowed by the league and the largest fine ever on a coach) for Spygate, in which the team taped the Jets’ signals from an unauthorized location during a game. The Patriots were fined $250,000, and lost their first-round 2008 draft pick. Keep in mind that the punishment wan’t for taping the signals, which is legal. It was for taping them from the wrong location.
* In 2015 the Patriots were fined $1 million and penalized two draft picks, and Tom Brady was suspended for four games for Deflategate. The team was accused of using under-inflated balls during a playoff game with the Colts — an accusation that was never fully proven. But in a year-long vendetta by Goodell that went through three courts, the punishment was upheld, rescinded, then reinstated.
Now let’s fast-forward to Sunday night, when Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott celebrated a touchdown by hopping into a large Salvation Army kettle in the back of the end zone: in clear violation of the NFL rule against celebrating with props. He was flagged, but was not fined at all. In 2015, the Steelers’ Antonio Brown was fined $11,576 for simply jumping onto the goalpost after a punt return touchdown.
Then Tuesday, we see the McAdoo/Giants slap on the wrist.
It seems that Goodell has no more stomach for lengthy, contentious rules confrontations. The Deflategate thing took all the starch out of him, and he doesn’t want any more trouble — and certainly doesn’t want to see the inside of a courtroom again. He’s a beaten man.
New England is tied for the best record in football and Brady is flying high, with the bonus of getting a four-game rest at the beginning of the season to keep him fresh up to 80 percent longer. Goodell may think he won his confrontation with Brady, but really he lost. And the crowing moment will come if Goodell has to hand him the Lombardi Trophy.