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Will NFL now investigate rest of league for tampering?


In denying the Chiefs’ effort to get back its third-round pick arising from contact made with receiver Jeremy Maclin during the 2015 pre-free agency negotiation period, the NFL has sent a clear message that it won’t stand for violations of the tampering rules. So now there’s only on question.

It’s already in the headline, but I’ll type it again. Will the NFL now investigate the rest of the league for tampering?

If the league is serious about eradicating tampering, it should. Especially since the league inexplicably delayed announcing the punishment imposed against the Chiefs until after the 2016 pre-free agency negotiation period had ended. With tens of millions dollars changing hands on the first day of free agency, as teams prepared to pay huge money to players they’ve often never met, any team that was poised to fork over that kind of cash had no real reason to not do the obvious thing and get the player on the phone for a conversation or two before getting the deal done.

Common sense suggests the NFL chose not to announce the punishment before the pre-free agency period in order to set a trap for other teams. With multiple teams potentially stepping right into the trap, the NFL should go collect its prey.

It’s the only fair thing to do, now that the league has opted to once again address a cultural problem in a narrow, specific way, finding one team that violated a rule and imposing harsh punishment in the hopes of scaring everyone else straight.

"[W]e continue to believe that the facts of this case combined with the league’s inconsistent enforcement of its tampering policies do not warrant the most severe penalty for player-related tampering in league history,” Chiefs owner Clark Hunt said after the denial of the appeal was announced.

Clark Hunt is right, so now the question becomes whether the league will harvest the low-hanging fruit induced by the decision not to use the Kansas City violation as a shot across the bow to the other 31 teams before the latest pre-free agency period began last month. With the league blowing its chance to do the right thing by wiping out the Chiefs’ punishment, the only right thing to do now is to investigate everyone else just as aggressively in order to identify the likely violations of the very same rule.