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Among the reasons the Minnesota Vikings are livid about a tampering charge from the Green Bay Packers: The NFL has made a renewed effort to patrol illicit recruiting and is handing out relatively high penalties for relatively low-grade offenses.
Consider the recent case of the San Francisco 49ers. The Chicago Bears charged them with tampering this winter, claiming the 49ers had talked to agent Drew Rosenhaus about the future availability of linebacker Lance Briggs in October 2007. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the main evidence was phone records that showed a 49ers official had called Rosenhaus during the timeframe in question.
The records did not indicate Rosenhaus took the call. Nevertheless, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell ultimately required the 49ers to forfeit a fifth-round pick and swap positions with the Bears in the third round of the 2008 draft.
Every circumstance is different, but what if the investigation confirms that Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell did indeed speak with Favre at a time when Favre was seeking release from the Packers? Would that be enough for the Vikings to be fined or lose a draft pick, even if there was no firm accounting of what the two friends talked about?
The whole issue could blow over without further incident, but at a time when the NFL is working overtime to maintain the integrity of the game, no one wants to be in the line of fire.
John Clayton in this video discusses how Goodell is likely to handle the charge.