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Roger Goodell Reinstates Rich McKay On Competition Committee, Continues To Make No Sense

BOSTON (CBS) -- You know, the NFL doesn't make a whole lot of sense these days.

In the midst of battling its biggest star in federal court over alleged "general awareness" over something that might have happened, the league went ahead and absolved Falcons team president Rich McKay for admitted wrongdoing.

It's baffling.

As background, McKay is the head of the NFL's competition committee, but he was suspended for "at least three months" on April 1, after the Falcons admitted to pumping artificial crowd noise into their stadium in 2013 and 2014.

The Falcons -- and, consequently, the NFL -- pinned all of the blame on a director of event marketing named Roddy White, who was promptly fired by the team. (Cris Carter applauds the Falcons for having a fall guy.)

The NFL's investigation (and we know those are always thorough and excellent) determined that McKay was not aware of the efforts taken by Falcons employees to cheat, but that "Mr. McKay, as the senior club executive overseeing game operations, bears some responsibility for ensuring that team employees comply with league rules."

So you'd think that it would only make sense to take the man in charge of an organization that admitted to cheating (in the worst way possible, because the Falcons went 6-10 at home over the past two years) and take him off the competition committee for good. Because it's the competition committee.

But nope. All it took was a little sit-down with Mr. Reasonable, Roger Goodell, and the commissioner has graciously ruled to let McKay resume his role as chairman of the competition committee.

It's incongruous, to say the least, for the NFL to handle this situation in such wildly contradictory fashion to the ongoing DeflateGate saga.


The Offense: Being "at least generally aware" of football deflation, which was "more probable than not" to have happened for one half of a football game.

The Punishment: A four-game suspension for the "at least generally aware" player, and the loss of a first-round and fourth-round draft pick, as well as a $1 million fine to the team.

The Outcome: Brady continues to fight the unprecedented suspension. The NFL filed suit in federal court to uphold its own decision and is treating Brady like a felon to the bitter end, refusing to budge from the commissioner's initial ruling. Oh, and when Goodell announced that he'd be upholding his own decision, he lied about what Brady said during his testimony in his appeal hearing. From Roger, it was a nice touch.


The Offense: Being in charge of the team that tried to interfere with other teams' play-calling abilities by blasting recorded crowd noise through the stadium.

The Punishment: An unknown employee with the same name as a receiver got fired,  the team was docked a fifth-round pick and $350,000,  and the team president was suspended as head of the competition committee.

The Outcome: Time heals all wounds, and in the case of McKay, being out as head of the competition committee for five months in the offseason was more than enough punishment.

The cases, obviously, don't line up apples to apples, and too many things these days draw poor comparisons to DeflateGate, but they're close enough to raise eyebrows.

The NFL contends that no team employee would ever take air out of a football without taking explicit, specific orders from the quarterback. ( That is, unless that team employee works in Minnesota. In that case, the player could not have ever known about it or ordered it.) And so, not only is Tom Brady guilty, but he deserves a punishment befitting that of an actual, real-life criminal.

At the same time, the NFL contended that even though McKay didn't know about the artificial crowd noise, the action falls under his jurisdiction, so he's responsible. And so, he needed to be punished ... but only for a few months in the offseason. Then it's back to normal.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank, at the time of the NFL's findings on the crowd noise, said, "Anytime there are actions that compromise the integrity of the NFL or threaten the culture of our franchise, as this issue did, they will be dealt with swiftly and strongly."

Swiftly and strongly, indeed!

And now, after McKay's five-month break from the competition committee came to an end, Blank stated, "I fully support his reinstatement to the committee."

Blank, by the way, sided against Robert Kraft and the Patriots when discussing the deflated ball situation earlier this year.

"The league feels a tremendous sense of responsibility, as do all the owners, in reinforcing the culture of the NFL, the shield and make sure the game remains as balanced and as pure and as true to its integrity and its ethics as can be done," Blank said in May. "When they find any organization or any individual has gotten off those tracks, it's their job to remind them of that and bring them back on the tracks and do it in a way that really reinforces what the league is about. I think in the case of New England they have done that."

As if you needed more reason to wonder why in the world "DeflateGate" continues to live on here in the final days of August, you now have this. Essentially, the integrity of the game and the shield and INTEGRITY are of the utmost importance, and it's crucial that the league prosecute a player to the Nth degree if he doesn't completely submit to the one-sided investigations, sponsored by the NFL. But other times, bah, it's not a big deal. Integrity, schmintegrity. The guy's been good for the league for a long time, so let's go ahead and reinstate him!

Roger Goodell, you make no sense, my friend. I shudder to think what you might decide tomorrow.

Read more from Michael Hurley by clicking here. You can email him or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

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