Thursday, August 18, 2016

Power madness

Aaron Rodgers is right, of course. But he is also not right.

The Green Bay Packers quarterback went on radio with Jim Rome yesterday, and what he said is what is the prevailing opinion these days: That whatever indignities Roger Goodell visits upon the workforce in the NFL, the workforce has no one to blame for itself for ceding all that power to Goodell during negotiations for the current collective bargaining agreement.

This is true, to a point. But there is more than some question that Goodell is now treading well beyond even the considerable powers he was given in trying to strong-arm four players, two of them Packers, into a naked-lightbulb grilling about their alleged PED use.

This is because the people doing the alleging -- Al-Jazeera America -- have already been discredited by Roger Goodell himself.  Or at least by his proxy.

This happened when the league gave Peyton Manning, who was also named in the Al-Jazeera report, a clean sheet, saying it found no credibility to the reports that he used the banned substance HGH to facilitate his recovery from neck surgery.

(This is, frankly, a fairly commonly prescribed treatment for patients in Manning's situation. As such, in the Blob's opinion, it was not the NFL's or anyone else's place to tell Manning he couldn't pursue that treatment, had he chosen to do so. Which he apparently didn't).

Anyway ... now Roger the Hammer is calling Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, Mike Neal and James Harrison to New York to explain themselves, based solely on this already discredited report. There is no probable cause here. The league has presented no other evidence that would justify such an interrogation. And yet Goodell has decreed that, if the four refuse to come to Papa, they'll be suspended.

Rodgers' position, and that of a lot of people, is that such a blatant abuse of authority is the players' own fault. But at some point, even Goodell's sweeping powers must have limits. At some point even Roger the Hammer is subject to the laws of the nation in which he lives and by whose grace he and his mighty empire have been allowed to thrive. To threaten what amounts to jail time for non-cooperation in a clearly illegitimate investigation would seem to violate some of those laws with breathtaking arrogance.

But then again, Goodell comes to this fresh off the Tom Brady case, in which the courts essentially said the NFL, as a private enterprise (brief pause here for loud guffawing), is a law unto itself. And so you can't really blame the commish for thinking he can pretty much get away with anything.

Of course, there will be always be a certain faction in American society whose response to these sorts of abuses is "Well, if they've got nothing to hide, why don't they just submit?" This is a compelling response until you realize it's the rationale that's propped up every vicious totalitarian regime in history. The KGB/Gestapo/secret police want to talk to you? Well, if you've got nothing to hide, what's the big deal?

Harrison, for one, could tell them.

“If that’s the case, then somebody could come out and say James Harrison is a pedophile,” he said, adding that he'd be willing to sit out the season if that's what it comes to. “They are going to suspend me, put me under investigation for being a pedophile just because somebody said it? I’m not going to answer questions for every little thing some Tom, Dick and Harry comes up with.”


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