Football Matters Are One Thing, Jerry. But When It Comes To Walkie-Talkies, I’ve Got Your Back
So put down your flip-phone and cancel all radio engagements. And please, promise me you won’t mention Tony and Super Bowl in the same sentence. It would only prove that old age is beginning to weigh on you.
Now that all of the formalities are out of the way, pull up a chair and warm your feet by the fire of my words, because they are going to be about as cozy concerning you as they’ve ever been. Or maybe ever will be. (We’ll see about that, won’t we?)
It comes down to this, Jerry. I’ve got a confession to make that, well, puts me in an awkward position, what with my reputation and all. When it comes to football philosophy, we’ve been on two different planets reading from two different books these past twenty years. The fact that I’ve been right all this time hasn’t caused you to lose any sleep, nor compelled a changing of the ways on your part. Nor has it caused you to treat me any differently than before, which just goes to show what a stand-up guy you really are, Jerry.
But it’s time to stop stalling and face facts. Jerry,…(sigh)…I’m on your side. No, really!
It was Paul “Bear” Bryant who once said, “It’s not the will to win that matters – everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.” Reading that quote yesterday made me think of you, Jerry. Honest. You’re always prepared on gameday. No matter what it takes and no matter how high the stakes are, you see a job through to the end. The fact that you have done so within the NFL rulebook is particularly meaningful. Especially in light of recent actions by a certain second-rate, second-place team.
It’s the G-Men, Jerry. Those New York footballers. Those Jersey Giants and their rotten, stinkin’, cheatin’ ways. They trail your Cowboys by two games in the standings, but lead the league by a wide margin in devious forethought. And, per yesterday’s dictum, have the full support of the NFL shield.
The story is probably an old and sensitive one around the Jones’ dinner table by now. But it won’t hurt to sketch a brief outline one more time, what with the women and children busy elsewhere.
During the fourth quarter of their Dec. 11 showdown with Dallas, New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo was spotted by NBC cameras using a walkie-talkie to communicate play-calls to quarterback Eli Manning. On Tuesday, the league office handed down their penalty for the infraction, fining the organization $150,000, McAdoo $50,000, and sliding the team’s fourth-round draft pick in 2017 to the very end of the round.
And who was it who said not so long ago that Roger and his deacons were incapable of administering swift justice? But, then again, “justice” might be a disingenuous term in this case, huh Jerry?
Jerry, you wrote the manual on freelance communication on an NFL sideline. If you were ever concerned with the health of Troy, then you walked down on to the field and made sure that Barry was more concerned with digesting pass-protection particulars than a Chicago-style hot dog on the bench. If Jason needed the score of another game relayed to him on the sideline, what better formula to use than the owner buttonholing him during the action in front of God, man, and television audience? And if the offense was stale, boring, and inert, you always showed perfect form in storming into the coaches box and ripping the headset away from Ernie Zampese. (Sorry, Jerry, but those rumors still persist.)
You’ve been at this game long enough to know the rules. If the Giants really were having trouble communicating with Manning as they claim, then the proper protocol is to notify the referee of the issue. If the referee deems it necessary, he can order the communication systems from both teams to be shut off for as long as it takes for league officials to rectify the problem, leaving both coaching staffs reliant mostly on hand-signals from the sidelines.
But McAdoo and the Giants didn’t do that. They grabbed a walkie-talkie and put it to work, using it to help put away the Cowboys late and stave off Wild-Card pursuers Tampa Bay and Washington in the process. Only an over-sensitive public and a devious group of New York attorneys have prevented the Giants from being branded with the label they truly deserve.
But why mince words among friends? Let’s cut to the chase. By using an unapproved two-way radio system during a game, the Giants cheated. Blatantly. In front of the entire football world, and under your very nose, Jerry. And I know the fact that they appear to be getting away with it with little more than a slap on the wrist has to stick in your craw, not only because of the 10-7 final of that evening, but especially due to your recent history with the Maras.
It was only a few years ago when you very cleverly used an uncapped year to make a few big payments to star players, despite encouragement from the Commissioner not to do so. It was big John Mara who then partied in the streets at your expense, after the league responded by unjustly ripping a cool $10 mil from the Cowboys’ salary-cap allotment. You took your medicine then, as you have now. Quietly. Like a man.
Knowing what happened to Brady’s bunch for allegedly deflating footballs in a playoff game a few years back would have caused anyone to anticipate Goodell’s office dropping the hammer on Mara’s Giant minions for this offence. Something in the nature of a game forfeiture, or the loss of a first-round draft pick. But you didn’t complain when they didn’t. Good for you, Jerry. Letting it lay is probably the best recourse with your team in the midst of a playoff push.
Of course, you realize it could have been worse, Jerry. The Giants might have gotten off scot-free if not for a few guardian angels in suits looking out for your interests.
Yes sir, tales from the rumor-mill pertaining to WalkieTalkieGate are certainly compelling. Supposedly, the league office was prepared to make a ruling on this issue as early as last Friday. But when the news leaked out that the Giants were going to be reprimanded with nothing but a meaningless monetary fine, a behind-the-scenes squall ensued. Owners were not pleased, and didn’t hesitate to make a few phone calls to emphasize that fact. So Roger Goodell had to come up with a compromise plan. Four days later, Goodell observed that shuffling a third-day draft selection would be sufficient to quiet the complaints.
All of which goes to show that you’ve got more friends in high places than most people realize, Jerry. Certainly more than I thought. Certainly more than you deserve. But that’s a topic for another day.
Today is the elected moment in time to admit that we share a common cause. There’s magic in them there walkie-talkies, Jerry. Not only have they enabled an increasingly-shabby franchise to stay afloat in the NFC playoff race, but allowed you to fill the admirable role of an innocent victim during the holiday season.
Yes sir, Jerry, you and your Cowboys have been robbed. Of justice, and likely far more than we’ll ever know. And that’s a fact.
Even if I do say so myself.