There can't be any other explanation can there? It seems like Der Kommissar has gone bat-shit crazy with power. I'm glad I was in class and couldn't put together my post when I first heard about the punishment handed down, as I was rather furious about this at that point. However, since then I've had time to reflect on this and try and formulate some sort of coherent thoughts on the 49ers losing their 5th round draft choice and having to swap their 3rd round pick with the Chicago ____ (new, more appropriate name to be decided on tomorrow, but they'll never be referred to by their given team name as long as I'm here).
First off, if the 49ers are guilty of this and McLoughlan's quote is just trying to cover things up, so be it. However, I have several problems with the way things have gone down.
The 49ers appeared to be provided a forum to present their side of the issue. However, unless someone proves otherwise, I'm of the opinion that the meeting in NYC was nothing more than a dog and pony show meant to appear fair on the surface. Since Roger Goodell took over for Paul Tagliabue, he has been on a one-man mission to "clean up" the league. Whether you agree with his suspensions of various players or not, it is safe to say he does not quite buy the old innocent until proven guilty line. Even if a person is guilty they deserve a fair trial, but that does not seem to apply so much to the NFL. It's The Commish's way or the highway.
If the NFL was actually a world of innocent until proven guilty and whatnot, this raises some questions as to how the "truth" came out. I've tried to determine the possible scenarios that led to evidence of tampering:
- The most basic is the 49ers told the NFL what they did and it turns out it was tampering. If the 49ers did anything wrong, I would think it would inadvertent, but who knows?
- Lance Briggs or his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, ratted us out. The 49ers actually have a good relationship with Rosenhaus, seen with the completion of a long-term deal for Frank Gore. Briggs is from Sacramento so I don't see what he has to gain from ratting out the 49ers for contacting him or Rosenhaus.
- It goes on all the time and the ____ whining combined with missteps by the 49ers and the fact that this goes on all the time and that was enough to screw us. I'm gonna go with this one as the likely determinant. Tampering has apparently been an issue for some time and the 49ers were the ones without a chair when the music stopped. Combine that with the _____ crying like a bunch of little girls
So, say the 49ers screwed up and tampered, inadvertently or not. If that's the case, taking away a later round draft choice makes sense. A 5th rounder sends a message, but does not cripple a team. HOWEVER, the swapping of the third round picks annoys me more than anything else. Goodell is saying the 49ers tampered with the _____ and Lance Briggs. Briggs remained with the _____ and actually signed a long term deal with them, never even visiting the Bay Area to consider signing with the 49ers. So you punish the 49ers by taking away the 5th rounder. THEN you reward the _____ by moving them up in the third round? Considering the _____ have been trying to succeed with Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton, I think THEY are the ones tampering with their own organization.
Considering Justin Smiley signed with the Dolphins so soon after free agency began, can we cry foul? Oh wait, no we won't do that because we're a classy organization not filled with a bunch of rats.
In the end though, as much as what has happened sucks, the 49ers management has to accept their share of blame. Even if inadvertent, the 49ers had to know they weren't completely playing by the book with Lance Briggs. It's bullshit that they're the ones getting thrown under the bus, but sometimes shit happens. As someone mentioned in the comments in the post below, hopefully this makes people think twice about dealing with the _____ or having no problems throwing them under the bus when this sort of situation occurs on their end. Unfortunately we don't get to play them this year, but next time we're facing the _____, I hope we wipe the floor with them. Consider me a lifetime member of the ____-hater club.
EDITOR'S UPDATE 8:40AM - Thanks to Sven for spotting MM's piece. It seems the league's evidence was two missed phone calls to Drew Rosenhaus's phone (with no voice mails left). Also, according to Maiocco: