Print and Go Back ESPN.com: AFC South [Print without images]

Tuesday, March 22, 2011
League fumbling rule enforcement

By Paul Kuharsky
ESPN.com

Roger Goodell threw some crumbs to the media in New Orleans. He should have done more than say five teams have gotten in trouble for breaking rules limiting contact after the end of the season and before a new league year started.

Chad Henne
Chad Henne and the Dolphins are believed to be one of five teams fined for impermissible coach-player contact after the season.
This from AFC East commandant Tim Graham, who’s at the NFL owners meeting:
Under the CBA that just expired, supervised practice or skull sessions were forbidden from the end of the previous season until March 15. Clauses in the rule state "players are not permitted to participate in organized workouts, practices or meetings of any kind" and "players may not be directed or supervised by position coaches during this period."

The Palm Beach Post previously cited NFL spokesman Greg Aiello as saying the league would not pursue the violations. When asked at the news conference why the league wouldn't punish multiple teams who reportedly had broken the rules, Goodell said "five teams have already been contacted on those violations."

When asked for clarification on whether or not the teams would be fined, Goodell said "they have been."

Graham was asking Goodell about Miami, and it would make sense that the Dolphins are one of the teams in trouble since quarterback Chad Henne talked openly about meeting with new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and quarterbacks coach Karl Dorrell to go over the playbook and strategies.

I wrote this post back on March 2 -- saying the league needed to show more backbone on these rules. It sure seemed as if the Dolphins would not suffer, while a team like the law-abiding Titans, who canceled an informational team meeting to be sure they didn’t do anything wrong, would.

Who benefits there, the rule-breaker or the rule-follower?

So the NFL wasn’t going to enforce it and now it is. But it won’t say who violated policy or isn't ready to say yet. Why? Because those teams deserve to break the rules in private? Or because the league is moving slowly on enforcement with something that should rank as a higher priority?

Meanwhile everyone is trying to find out team-by-team who the violators were. Tania Ganguli said the Jaguars are not one of the five. I’ve not been able to pin down the other three teams in the AFC South.

Whoever violated policy, these fines better be giant. Even if they are, it amounts to having purchased the right to get your guys ahead of everyone else’s guys.

It seems an awfully big advantage to me.