Here's a suggestion to all the National Football League knuckleheads who think Roger Goodell's rules aren't for them. Now is not the time to get in trouble. The Commish isn't playing.
You have to be foolish, arrogant or just plain stupid to flirt with the law if you are an NFL player right now. Goodell meant business when he issued his new player-conduct policy a few weeks ago, and it wasn't merely a publicity stunt. He is going to "protect the shield," as he has said, and he doesn't want to see a repeat of the USA Today sports cover from early April displaying 41 head shots of players who had been arrested or who had gotten in trouble.
If a player shows a pattern of (mis)behavior, he is going to get in trouble. See Jones, Adam. Or, check out Henry, Chris.
The USA Today cover preceded Goodell's sanctions against Jones and Henry, and was about as damning a commentary about what's been happening in the NFL for the last year as anything. You hear the numbers - particularly about the Bengals. But the faces spoke volumes, and Goodell didn't care for it.
"I didn't like that, either," Eagles linebacker Takeo Spikes said last week. "I didn't like that at all."
Spikes is on the newly formed six-player advisory committee that will confer with Goodell on issues of discipline, player conduct and player safety. NFL Players Association president Troy Vincent and executive director Gene Upshaw recommended Spikes, a longtime player rep in Cincinnati and then Buffalo, where Spikes played briefly with Vincent.
Calling it "a very big honor" to be on the committee, Spikes said he went into his duties somewhat skeptical of the new commissioner. He has a well-formed opinion now. Spikes said he thinks Goodell will be fair with the players, and will treat each case independently.
If he thought otherwise, Spikes said, he would not have agreed to be at Goodell's beck and call.
"I really think he's a fair guy," Spikes said. "As a matter of fact, I know he's a fair guy considering some of the stuff that went on that really wasn't released to the public. He's going to give you every opportunity to succeed. He really puts it back in your hands.
"Point blank, one of the main reasons they got me on the committee is because I always shoot it to you real. I tell it to you how it's supposed to be told. I'm not going to sugarcoat it. If I have something bad to say, I just won't say nothing at all before I lie to you. But it's bad. If you get in trouble right now, if there was ever a time not to get in trouble, it's right now. Don't do it right now, because the rule has been written, the new standards are up, you would be pretty much a fool to get in trouble."
That's right. A fool. Are you listening, rookies? Michael Vick? Anyone?
"I can walk out of here today and get caught speeding, or get caught speeding two times, and [Goodell] won't look at that as a deal where, 'OK, I've got to suspend this guy,' " Spikes said. "By me being able to talk to him, I trust him and know that he won't make no type of decision that'll be detrimental for a player.
"But if it's something where you get caught up in a situation, and the next time it's the same situation but a bigger blow-out, then three, four and five happen? Now you've got a problem. That's his main thing."
Donovan McNabb said last week that he was shocked the Eagles used their first selection in the draft to pick a quarterback. How did the Birds' No. 1 fan feel?
"As my predecessor, Wilson Goode, used to say, it boggles the entire mind."
Ah, yes, the Governor.
In an interview for the Bloomberg Television show Political Capital with Al Hunt, which is airing multiple times this weekend, Pennsylvania Gov. Rendell talked about health care, Iraq, the Democratic candidates for president . . . and the Eagles.
Rendell sided with McNabb.
He would have preferred that the Eagles pick a player who could help them this season, rather than down the road.
"It's not like Donovan McNabb is 33 or 34," the Governor said. "Sure, he's been injured before, but none of those are recurring, degenerative injuries. Donovan McNabb . . . in my judgment is going to go down as one of the great quarterbacks in the history of the NFL, and he's got at least three, four, five years to play. It was stunning to all of us, absolutely stunning to all of us, especially because the Eagles, we have a decent receiving corps, but it can be upgraded."
Rendell really liked Dwayne Jarrett, the wide receiver from Southern California who went to the Carolina Panthers with the 45th pick.
"I think we're going to rue the day we didn't pick him," he said.