Mark Curnutte offers the latest on the Cincinnati Bengals

Mark Curnutte started covering the Bengals and the NFL for The Enquirer in 2000. He previously wrote about urban affairs and other social issues for the Enquirer. He won the prestigious 1994 Unity Award from Lincoln University (Missouri) for "A Polite Silence," a seven-day series about race relations in Greater Cincinnati. He also has worked as an assistant features editor and features writer at The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. Curnutte is second vice president and a three-year board member of the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA). He is a 1984 Miami University graduate.

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Teams might be accountable

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says teams might be fined or otherwise penalized for off-field behavior of their players.

The story is linked above.

My questions to you, especially fans of the Bengals, a team that has been willing to take risks on players with character questions -- including fifth-round defensive tackle Jason Shirley this year -- are should teams be held accountable financially for the negative behavior of players off the field? Why or why not?


at 5/07/2008 11:40 AM Blogger Ryan said...

My company can be fined for mistakes that I make conducting official business, but it would be asinine to believe that the state could fine the company for my DUI.

at 5/07/2008 12:08 PM Blogger Mike said...

I think Godell might have a law degree but he should be careful in the waters that he is treading. He may be stepping a bit too far and raising more legal issues than he cares for. Creating accountability for employers raises discrimination / defamation questions that may be too much for the NFL to deal with. This is especially evident when the internet is more prone to publish unrealiable accounts and testimony about players.

at 5/07/2008 12:43 PM Blogger anon said...

The more important question to me is: Should teams be fined for consistently losing in the NFL?
A losing tax.
The Bengals may actually change their operating procedure if there was some effect to their bottom line.

at 5/07/2008 1:05 PM Blogger Chili Dog said...

In some regard, teams are already accountable for the poor choices made by players. Look at the number of games the Bengals have lost over the course of the last several seasons.

I think if the program were carefully tailored to those whose poor choices are well-documented it would work and be fully enforceable. A perfect case in point is Chris Henry. If the NFL were to allow him to play and another team picks him up with the baggage he carries, that team should be penalized financially if Henry breaks the law again.

In this regard, it will add a layer of enforcement to the NFL, by placing the burden on the teams to make good choices, rather than simply relying on the NFL to levy suspensions.

As for first or second time offenders, I don't think the league would have any legal grounds to fine a franchise, unless all the franchise owners agree.

at 5/07/2008 1:34 PM Blogger CT Bengals Fan said...

Now that's taking the baton WAY to far. First, I agree with Mike, there is the possibility of all sorts of legal action. Also if teams are going to become reponsible for the actions of the thugs of the NFL does that mean that teams can monitor the athlete 24/7? How can a team be responsible for players outside the "working hours"
According to what Ryan said his company is responsible for what he does during the working hours, but not during offhours.. this has GOT to be an idle threat by Goodell...

I really think it's enough what he's doing, i.e. suspending players for extended amount of time. If it comes down to it he can expell players from the NFL.

at 5/07/2008 1:43 PM Blogger House of Cards said...

First off, the team is already penalized, as they lose the services of said player during any of those consistently (sarcasm) administered suspensions the league (aka Roger) doles out, and still have to count that player's contract in their salary cap number. Isn't that penalty enough?
And second, the day the commissioner doles out these suspensions in a more even handed and consistent fashion, instead of using them as a way to punish an owner for speaking out against a poorly negotiated collective bargaining deal he has manipulated them into adopting, perhaps more players will take notice and modify their behavior. Shortening the suspension of Tank Johnson because he switched rosters and now plays for the commish's pal in Dallas sends a conflicting message. so too does NOT suspending a player caught on video tape assaulting another player along with seven of his closest friends, while extending the suspension of another player whose most apparent crime is that he doesn't know when to say when. And to even allow a trade for a draft pick in return for a suspended player (Pac-Man) go through at all should never have been allowed to happen. But again, since the owner in question is the commish's good buddy, all's right with the world.

at 5/07/2008 1:56 PM Blogger Buggaluggs said...

You can't enforce a punitive penalty against an entity for an event upon which it has zero control.

at 5/07/2008 4:26 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fining the team won't stop players from getting into trouble.

The solution is simple. The league needs to meet with all players and agents. Yes agents. They all need to be made aware that they have a very short leash. You get three strikes on misdermeanors (exceptions on minor traffic violations). After strike 3 you are no longer allowed to play in the NFL or any of its affiliates. You get no strikes with felonies. One felony and you are gone. Why agents? They may care a little more when they see that they have a shorter leash with their clients. It may cause them to get involved and offer services to help their clients.

Second, these rules should be explained to both college and HS players. Get this idea in their head as young as possible that bad behavior will not be tolerated in the NFL.

at 5/07/2008 5:22 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is this legal?

at 5/07/2008 5:49 PM Blogger cincikid said...

How are you going to hold the team accountable for the players actions when the Players Union has the Owners, Coaches hands tied behing their backs. FINE GENE UPSHAW!!!

at 5/07/2008 11:44 PM Blogger Dave said...

From a personal liberties standpoint, this is really pushing the boundaries. However, as the business is considered entertainment, and entertainers have a certain obligation to their public image (Marvin's required public service for the Bengals, LeBron's obligations to his sponsors), this one will probably fly - especially when you consider all the legal exceptions professional sports get. And I couldn't help but think of all the times Mike Brown and company have gone cheap, attempting to draft 1st and 2nd rounders later (Brooks, Rucker, Thurman in the 2nd, Henry) in order to pay them less.

This works both ways, however, and could benefit risky players. If Pacman Jones drops to the 6th round because everyone is scared to take him (obviously no one predicted he'd be this horrible, though), he has some reason to prove himself. Without being a high pick with the cash to go out and "make it rain," maybe he has to bust his tail for a couple years to get that first big paycheck, like the 2nd rounders in the NBA. Do you not think Mario Manningham is going to say "I got cheated," and try to earn himself a nice payday in 3 years? I would think that more than a few guys who fall 2 or 3 rounds would spend a little more time with the weights and a little less time with the strippers in an effort to be able to pay for themselves and their families for the next 30 years.

I know the mentality of baseball and football is different, too, but when the top pick gets 2 mil. to sign and spends 3 years in the minors, he learns some discipline. The NFL will still play guys right away, but maybe "slotting" draft pick salaries like the other two big leagues would do well - who wants to pay $50 mil to a QB you don't see for half a season?

at 5/08/2008 9:34 AM Blogger Jason said...

Mark, can we get an update on Brooks? The outcome of this debacle could hamper hopes for this season.

at 5/08/2008 10:44 AM Blogger House of Cards said...

Jason, I think Brooks was possessed by Smokey McPot, who found himself locked up in his crib with nothing else to do and so started practicing Voodoo. Smokey probably has a Carson Palmer doll too, he is just saving that one for the regular season.

at 5/08/2008 11:56 AM Blogger SportsMania said...

ryan- You can't really compare you and your company to the NFL and it's players, they are two totally different situations. When was the last time your company thought about trading you to a competitor?

Also, there are no legal ramifications for Goodell to worry about, this is completely within his power.

Even with that said, this is a bad idea. Accountability should be at the player level. In many cases it is difficult to determine a player's character before you draft them or even while they are on your team.

What Goodell does need to do is become more consistent with punishment. He seems to hit the Bengals pretty hard (esecially not reinstating Odell sooner), while some player's he lets slide (Joey Porter). And he seems to favor certain teams, letting the Patriots off easy for blantant cheating. If he lets Pacman Jones play again this coming season, it will become very clear that he is picking on choosing teams.

at 5/08/2008 12:25 PM Blogger David Wells said...

I sympathize with Goodell, but as I noted over on Today at the Forum blog, the teams just employ these guys, they don't own them.

at 5/08/2008 4:40 PM Blogger kylemack said...

Imagine if a certain amount of players, from a team, break the law then the Head Coach, GM, and owner get to spend the weekend in jail .......with their players. You could have Marvin, Mikey Boy, Troy Boy hanging out with Brooks, Chris Henry,
and Frostee in the Justice Center!!!!!!!!

at 5/12/2008 1:15 PM Blogger Who dey head hunter said...

House of cards-
No, really seriously?
CBA, Revenue sharing?
These are the worst things that can ever happen to a benGAL fan. It means Mikey makes money no matter what, whether they win or lose.

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