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Tom Coughlin, the long-time head coach of the New York Giants, is one of the most decent men in the NFL. When he speaks, I listen because he’s earned that respect. I can’t agree with him about what he said about the Giants-Carolina game.

I agree with Coach Coughlin when he said that Odell Beckham “has been singled out for his actions.” I don’t agree with him rationalizing his player’s behavior. That’s what he was doing when he said that there “were factors involved starting in pregame, which are well documented, which indicate there was an attempt to provoke him. He was provoked, he was out of control, he was wrong, no doubt about that but…there are two sides to this not just one.”

Josh Norman got fined because he was the player that got hit by Beckham, who got a 10-yard running start before hitting Norman in the head at high speed. Norman’s actions were a clear violation of the rules. Beckham’s actions could’ve caused a number of different brain injuries to Norman. At no point did Norman try to spear Beckham.

That’s why Beckham’s suspension should be upheld.

By now, everyone’s seen this video of Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham spearing Carolina’s Josh Norman:

Monday, the NFL suspended Beckham from Sunday night’s game against the Minnesota Vikings. The NFLPA immediately appealed the suspension. That appeal is happening literally as I type this. James Thrash, a former NFL wide receiver hired by the NFL and the NFLPA, is conducting the hearing.

I’m betting that the NFLPA’s chief argument will be that he should be fined, not suspended. If that’s the NFLPA’s chief argument, that should be immediately rejected. Beckham’s actions a) were dangerous, b) were motivated by malice and c) could’ve resulted in a concussion that could’ve financially damaged Josh Norman.

Thus far, the comments have focused on how out-of-control Beckham was or how this isn’t typical of a Tom Coughlin-coached team. Both statements are indisputable. What hasn’t gotten talked about is the fact that Josh Norman will be a free agent this offseason. He’s considered the best cornerback in the league, which means he should expect a 5-6 year contract worth $15,000,000 a year, including at least $50,000,000 in guaranteed money.

Beckham’s hit could easily have given Norman a concussion. If he’d been concussed, all bets are off as to whether Norman would get the type of contract he’s expecting to get. While it’s likely that he’d still sign a lucrative contract, it’s quite possible that Norman would’ve gotten less lucrative contracts, costing him as much as $25,000,000.

That’s yet another reason why Odell Beckham must be suspended.

I haven’t kept it a secret that I don’t respect NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. I’ve written negatively about him frequently, mostly with regards to his mishandling of the Adrian Peterson case. It’s time for NFL owners to fire Goodell. If they don’t fire him, they’ll lose their credibility. It’s time for them to put their big boy pants on.

Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com is reporting about Goodell’s inaction earlier this season turning into a bigger deal now. Florio reported “During the Week Eight contest in Pittsburgh, Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict applied a hit to Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell that resulted in a season-ending knee injury. After the game, Steelers linebacker Vince Williams posted a tweet that Burfict and other Bengals players regarded as a death threat: ‘I catch Vontaze on south beach im painting that boi on sight.'”

According to Florio, “It’s possible the league didn’t do anything about the threats because the league didn’t want to turn a fairly small story into a big story.” Florio is wrong in calling the initial story “a fairly small story.” Physically threatening a player isn’t insignificant, especially when the offending player refuses to apologize:

Williams later deleted the tweet and issued a statement in which he refused to apologize for his words but also said he “shouldn’t have taken these feelings to Twitter.”

Taking the threat to Twitter isn’t the problem. Issuing death threats is the problem. Even if Williams wasn’t serious, it’s a serious matter. More importantly, Williams threat violates Goodell’s Personal Conduct Policy:

Williams’ behavior seems to constitute a violation of the plain terms of Personal Conduct Policy, which prohibits “[a]ctual or threatened physical violence against another person.”

Goodell hasn’t hesitated in talking about “protecting the shield” on matters of personal and professional integrity. The fact that Goodell applies this policy arbitrarily and inconsistently speaks volumes about Goodell’s penchant for situational integrity.

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Anyone who’s been a Vikings fan the last 20+ years knows that Adrian Peterson’s performance in 2012 is a performance for the ages. That’s the year Adrian rushed for 2,097 yards, the second-most rushing yards in an NFL season. The reason why that’s part of AP’s mystique is because he did that less than a year after tearing his ACL in the fifteenth game of the 2011 season. When Adrian announced that he’d start Game One of the 2012 season a week after he had surgery to repair his knee, the experts laughed.

According to the splits for his 2012 season, Adrian is 4 rushing yards ahead of that year’s pace this year. Here’s the game-by-game split of Adrian’s 2012 season:

According to these NFL-certified stats, Adrian Peterson had 957 yards rushing after 9 games in 2012. This year, Adrian Peterson has 961 yards rushing after 9 games. This year, the Vikings finish with a home-and-home series against the Packers, road games at Atlanta and Arizona and home games against Seattle, Chicago and the Giants.

Right now, Adrian is on pace to reach 1,708 yards rushing. In my estimation, that gives Adrian at least an outside shot at breaking Eric Dickerson’s single season rushing record. If AP rushes for 2,000 yards, which I think is, at worst, a 50-50 proposition, that’d mean he’d become the only runner to twice top 2,000 rushing yards in a single season. To reach 2,000 yards, it’s likely that Adrian would need at least one more 200 yard rushing game.

Right now, Adrian is tied with O.J. Simpson for most games with 200 yards rushing in a single game. They’re tied at 6 games with 200 yards rushing. The next time Adrian tops 200, which might be this Sunday against the Packers, he’d break Simpson’s record.

Suffice it to say that it’s going to be a fun year watching the Vikings, especially with Adrian Peterson having a shot at so many rushing records.

After Lamarcus Joyner’s cheap shot against Teddy Bridgewater in Sunday’s game, Jeff Fisher isn’t in a position to give anyone advice. Still, that’s what he did Monday in telling Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer to control his emotions immediately after a game, adding that Zimmer should “go back and look at the tape before you jump to conclusions.”

I’ve watched the replay a dozen times. There’s no question that Teddy Bridgewater started his slide at the Vikings 23-yard line. Similarly, there’s no question that Joyner was between the 27- and 28-yard line when Bridgewater started his slide. Further, there’s conclusive visual proof that Joyner didn’t do anything to avoid sliding into Bridgewater with his forearm out. Joyner’s forearm hit Bridgewater in the helmet.

The NFL rulebook states quite clearly that “a defender must pull up when a runner starts a feet-first slide. This doesn’t mean that all contact by a defender is illegal. If a defender has already committed himself, and the contact is unavoidable, it isn’t a foul unless the defender commits some other act, such as helmet-to-helmet contact or by driving his forearm or his shoulder in the head or neck area of the runner.”

There’s indisputable visual proof that Joyner hit Bridgewater’s head with his forearm extended. Notice that this rule isn’t just for quarterbacks. The rule speaks of hitting “the head or neck area of the runner.” Some of the apologists on ESPN and the NFL Network said that the play was a bang-bang play, meaning Joyner didn’t have the time to avoid the contact. That’s BS. Regardless, Joyner certainly had sufficient time to not slide. Further, Joyner had plenty of time to not lead with his forearm extended.

I know this, not because I played in the NFL but, because another Rams defender was caught in a similar situation earlier in the game. This defender didn’t have any problem avoiding planting his forearm into the player’s facemask.

Fisher’s teams have had a well-documented history of hitting players after the whistle has blown. Rather than offering Coach Zimmer advice, I’d argue that Fisher should spend a ton of time teaching his players how to be professionals.

During the Vikings-Rams game Sunday at TCF Bank Stadium on the U of M campus, Rams defensive back Lamarcus Joyner hit Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater with a forearm shiver to Bridgewater’s head:

The NFL implemented a new rule several years ago in their attempt to protect quarterbacks. If a quarterback slides at the end of a run, the defensive player doesn’t have to touch him because the slide is considered proof that he’s giving up on the play in exchange for his safety. Clearly, that’s what Bridgewater did early in the fourth quarter. Joyner slid, too, but with his forearm out. After the game, Joyner said that he wasn’t trying to hurt Bridgewater.

I don’t totally believe that but I won’t accuse him of being a dirty player because, as far as I know, he doesn’t have a reputation of being a dirty player. I won’t extend that same benefit of the doubt to St. Louis Head Coach Jeff Fisher or St. Louis Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams because they both have reputations of being dirty coaches.

During the pregame show on NBC’s Sunday Night game of the week, commentator Rodney Harrison, in talking about the Bridgewater-Joyner play, said that he remembered a wide receiver on Fisher’s team going low and hitting Harrison’s knee. As a result of the play, Harrison wound up with a torn ACL, ending his season. Harrison said he looked up in pain to see “Jeff Fisher smiling” while Harrison was in pain.

That’s before talking about Gregg ‘Bountygate’ Williams. Ben Goessling, one of ESPN’s staff writers and former Vikings beat writer for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, wrote briefly about Williams in his article:

Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has a history with the Vikings; he was the New Orleans Saints’ defensive coordinator in 2010, when the Saints’ bounty system targeting quarterback Brett Favre became national news after New Orleans beat the Vikings in the NFC Championship Game.

There’s no justification for what Joyner did. A defensive player that slides with his forearm out isn’t playing within the rules. If the quarterback is sliding, then the official’s whistle blows and the play is over. Period.

If Williams and Fisher aren’t teaching their defensive players this basic rule, then they’re being derelict in their responsibilities to play within the rules. If the NFL doesn’t discipline Fisher and Williams, they’re essentially telling them that not teaching players to play within the rules is optional. The NFL has tried hard over the last 18 months to clean the game up. If it doesn’t discipline these coaches, and to a lesser extent, Joyner, they will have shown that talk of player safety is just talk.

UPDATE: I DVR all Vikings games so I can study the players’ performances. I just watched the hit on Teddy Bridgewater that gave him his concussion. I have a different perspective on the play than I had yesterday. Thanks to the marks left in the Bank’s field turf, it’s clear that Bridgewater started his slide before the 25 yard line. Joyner didn’t hit Bridgewater until Bridgewater’s head was across the 25 yard line. Further, it’s clear that Joyner didn’t leave his feet until after Bridgewater had crossed the 25 yard line.

Upon further review, there’s no question in my mind. Joyner’s hit was intentional. The NFL should fine and/or suspend him. The NFL should investigate the Rams to see whether Williams has restarted the BountyGate program in St. Louis.

I’ve been critical of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for his handling of disciplining Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice and Greg Hardy. His disciplinary actions violated the NFL-NFLPA rules of the shop in terms of how long Commissioner Goodell could suspend players for. For instance, when Adrian struck his son with a wooden switch, the maximum suspension for such an offense was 2 games. Ditto with Ray Rice.

After the public outcry over the Rice suspension reached deafening levels after a video was found from inside the casino hotel showing Ray Rice hitting his then-fiancé, Commissioner Goodell instituted a new set of rules. In both the Rice and Peterson cases, federal judges ruled that the violations happened before the new rules went into effect. In those instances, the judges ruled that Commissioner Goodell hadn’t applied the existing “rules of the shop” in disciplining Rice and Peterson.

I fully support Commissioner Goodell’s ruling against Tom Brady for a multiple reasons, which I’ll get into shortly. First, though, it’s important to highlight what went into the NFL’s decision:

On or shortly before March 6, the day that Tom Brady met with independent investigator Ted Wells and his colleagues, Brady directed that the cell phone he had used for the prior four months be destroyed. He did so even though he was aware that the investigators had requested access to text messages and other electronic information that had been stored on that phone. ?During the four months that the cell phone was in use, Brady had exchanged nearly 10,000 text messages, none of which can now be retrieved from that device. The destruction of the cell phone was not disclosed until June 18, almost four months after the investigators had first sought electronic information from Brady.

Because the appeal that the NFLPA will file in federal court within the next 2 weeks will be about the process that the NFL used, they won’t be re-litigating Troy Vincent’s or Roger Goodell’s findings of facts. That’s why it’s certain that the federal appellate courts will uphold Brady’s suspension. That’s also why the judiciary won’t grant an injunction that would put Brady’s suspension on hold until the appeal can be heard.

Injunctions and TROs aren’t granted unless the court thinks that the plaintiff has a chance of winning on the merits of the case. That gets into the procedural part of this suspension.

Most importantly, the collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA stipulates that the NFL commissioner has the right to hear the appeals for violations of league rules regarding the games itself. There’s a different procedure in place for what the NFL and NFLPA call personal conduct policies. Peterson’s and Rice’s violations violated the NFL’s personal conduct policies. Tom Brady’s violation had to do with the game itself.

Since the collective bargaining agreement gives Commissioner Goodell the right to hear Brady’s appeal, it’s difficult to see how a court could rule against the NFL in this case. Further, the fact that the NFL highlighted the fact that Brady destroyed his cell phone knowing that the NFL investigator wanted to look at the text messages between Brady and the Patriots’ locker room guys is a major red flag. There isn’t an honest investigator alive who wouldn’t think of this as a major infraction.

That’s like telling the IRS agent that you get rid of your tax returns every 2 years right before they audit you. Of course, that isn’t going to fly.

I don’t know when the NFLPA’s lawsuit will be heard or in which court it’ll be filed. What’s certain, though, is that it’ll end with Tom Brady serving a 4-game suspension.

There’s a flood of positivity flowing through Winter Park this morning. That’s because Adrian Peterson is back at Winter Park:

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Adrian Peterson is coming back to the Minnesota Vikings, telling The Associated Press that he will participate in the team’s voluntary practice on Tuesday and still has love for his team after nine months away.

Peterson sent an e-mail to the AP early Tuesday morning saying he’s excited to put on a uniform again after missing the final 15 games of last season while addressing child abuse charges in Texas. He also skipped the team’s voluntary practices last week while openly lamenting the fact that the final three years of his contract are not guaranteed.

“I’ve been away from the game for an entire season,” Peterson wrote to the AP. “I wanted the chance to be around the players and coaches, the guys that really matter to me.”

Teddy Bridgewater just improved as a quarterback. Mike Zimmer became a smarter head coach. Norv Turner is wearing an ear-to-ear smile and Mike Wallace dreams of all the single coverage he’ll see this season. There’s a difference between quality starters and Pro Bowl players. Then there’s the difference between Pro Bowl players and true superstars. Adrian fits in at the top of the ‘true superstar’ category. There isn’t a defensive coordinator who isn’t revising his game plan if he’s facing the Vikings this season.

Last year, Teddy Bridgewater had an impressive rookie season. Still, there’s no denying he’s still got lots to learn. His learning curve isn’t as inclined as it was a month ago thanks to Adrian. Play action passes against defenses with 9 men in the box are more like pitch and catch routines. Last year, defenses didn’t take the Vikings running game seriously. They didn’t take Teddy’s play action fakes seriously, either. That changed this morning.

One of the sneaky smart things that the Vikings did this winter was trade for speedster Mike Wallace. When he was asked if Mike Wallace was good at double moves, Norv Turner said that Wallace was fast enough that he didn’t need a double move. There was a smile on Turner’s face at that point. I’m thinking about the cat-that-ate-the-canary type smile.

This morning’s news officially makes the Vikings a potential playoff team.

As owner of the Patriots, Robert Kraft is responsible for setting the direction of the team. He hired the GM and the head coach. He established what was acceptable conduct within the organization and what wasn’t acceptable. Apparently, the list of things that aren’t acceptable is a short list whereas the list of things that Mr. Kraft will turn a blind eye towards is lengthy and growing.

After the Patriots got caught cheating during this year’s AFC Championship Game, Kraft didn’t offer an apology. Rather, he threw this hissy fit:

Early in the video, Kraft said this odd thing:

KRAFT: I want to make it clear that I believe unconditionally that the New England Patriots have done nothing inappropriate in this process or in violation of NFL rules.

That’s odd because belief that you’re innocent isn’t a legal standard. It certainly isn’t proof of anything. The proof contained in the Wells Report points to just one conclusion: that Tom Brady, with the help of Jim McNally, cheated by deflating the Patriots’ game day footballs.

Further, Robert Kraft didn’t cooperate when required to. When the NFL’s investigators wanted to do a second interview with Jim McNally, Kraft’s Patriots said no. Unilaterally, they shut down that part of the investigation. Despite shutting that part of the investigation down, Kraft insists that they fully cooperated.

That’s led to this absurd premise: that the organization that’s getting investigated gets to a) determine when the investigation is complete and b) tell investigators how far they can go. Imagine if those principles were transferred to our criminal justice system. If the person getting investigated got to determine the length of the investigation, our prisons would be empty.

After the release of the Wells Report, Kraft criticized the report in this statement. This part especially stands out:

Based on the explanations I have heard and the studies that have been done, I don’t know how the science of atmospheric conditions can be refuted or how conclusions to the contrary can be drawn without some definitive evidence.

The person who helped the NFL’s investigators is more than qualified:

As part of the investigation, scientific consultants were engaged to assist the investigative team. These consultants included Exponent, one of the leading scientific and engineering consulting firms in the country, and Dr. Daniel R. Marlow, the Evans Crawford 1911 Professor of Physics at Princeton University and former Chairman of the Princeton University Physics Department, who served as a special scientific consultant, coordinated with Exponent on its testing and analytical work, and advised the investigative team.

If Kraft wants to criticize that part of the investigation, he’s got a tough fight ahead because the chairman of the University of Princeton’s Physics Department will likely be a compelling witness.

Kraft’s organization dug itself a hole by cheating. Tragically, Kraft added to his organization’s troubles by not cooperating with the investigation. Additionally, Kraft criticized the Report without proof that would exonerate his star quarterback.

That’s why the Patriots should forfeit next year’s first round draft pick and pay a $1,000,000 fine. They compromised the integrity of the game. That’s inexcusable.

If the NFL wants to maintain its integrity, Tom Brady’s suspension needs to be more than a token slap on the wrist. My opinion is based on what’s found on pg. 19 of the Wells Committee Report. This information jumped off the page:

During his interview, Brady denied any knowledge of or involvement in any efforts to deflate game balls after the pre-game inspection by the game officials. He claimed that prior to the events surrounding the AFC Championship Game, he did not know McNally’s name or anything about McNally’s game-day responsibilities, including whether McNally had any role relating to game balls or the game officials. We found these claims not plausible and contradicted by other evidence. In fact, during his interview, Jastremski acknowledged that Brady knew McNally and McNally’s role as Officials Locker Room attendant.

Unfortunately for Mr. Brady, that isn’t the only damning information on pg. 19. Here’s more:

Brady personally was involved in the 2006 rule change that allowed visiting teams to prepare game balls in accordance with the preferences of their quarterbacks. During the process of advocating that rule change, it is reasonable to infer that Brady was likely to be (or become) familiar with the NFL rules regarding game balls, including the 12.5 psi minimum inflation level, although Brady denies having been aware of Rule 2 or the minimum inflation level until 2014 (despite approximately fourteen years as an NFL quarterback).

It’s tragic when something like this happens. It’s impossible for Brady to deny that he knows about Rule 2. During several videos, Brady emphatically states that he a) prefers his footballs inflated to 12.5 psi and b) doesn’t want those game day balls inflated or deflated once he’s picked out the game day footballs because, at that point, Brady considers them “perfect.”

In this video, Trey Wingo nails Brady in his deceit:

Here’s what Wingo said right at the end of the video:

Well, that’s an interesting point. He said “I like that ball right at 12.5. How do you know you like it at 12.5 if you can’t feel the difference? He also said he can’t feel the difference. This is not a Supreme Court case. Let’s be clear about this. We’re just trying to get to the bottom of the story. That’s all we’re trying to do. But you can’t say, on one hand, that you like it at 12.5 and then say that you can’t tell the difference.

That Brady insisted that he wanted the footballs inflated to a certain pressure level during his press conference, then told a different audience that he couldn’t tell the difference between balls indicates a disgusting level of deceit on Mr. Brady’s part. He’s counting on the average fan to not know the things that go into getting a player’s equipment just perfect before the games.

Mark Brunell was serious when he talked about the protocol he used in picking out the game balls. His voice intensified when he said “That football is our livelihood.” There’s nothing casual to an athlete about getting his equipment just perfect.

Because Brady was deceitful, especially during questioning by investigators, he must be suspended for either 4 games or 6 games. The suspension can’t be reduced for good behavior, either. What Brady did hurt the integrity of the game.

Check back later today to find out what I’m recommending for discipline for Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick. You don’t want to miss it.