Everybody just hold on a second. Before we nominate Roger Goodell for President, let’s wait to see if his swift, stern action against the dregs of the NFL this week will withstand the legal challenges that are sure to come.

Much as I want to applaud the NFL commissioner for taking such a bold stand when he suspended Pacman Jones for the year and Chris Henry for eight games for conduct detrimental to the league, I’ve seen too many lawyers, loopholes and injunctions in a lifetime of following sports to expect this to last very long.

All reports indicated that the NFL Players Association is tacitly supporting this hard stance. Part of that may be that the players understand fighting on behalf of scum like Jones and Henry is a losing battle, if only in the public relations department.

Goodell has also been very smart to reach out to the players, even impaneling a group of current players to advise him on league issues such as player conduct. Several players have been outspoken about the need for the league to protect its image and have acknowledged the need for all of the players to back tough policies to keep players in line.

But I doubt very many agents are down with this, and I’m sure they’ve got some high-powered lawyer friends begging for the chance to take this to some judge. I don’t know anything about the legal underpinnings of this and/or future action taken by the commissioner (Tank Johnson probably doesn’t have to worry about reporting directly to Bears’ training camp once he gets released from jail), but I do know if there is money to be made, someone is going to challenge the league’s right to mete out such severe punishment.

“It is a privilege to represent the NFL, not a right,” Goodell said after the suspensions were announced. “These players and all members of our league have to make the right choices and decisions in their conduct on a consistent basis.”

Fans have been waiting a long time to hear someone in the NFL say that. Paul Tagliabue didn’t have the heart or the guts, apparently, so give Goodell credit for not worrying about stepping on anyone’s toes so early in his term.

Like most NFL fans, I’m really hoping the league can continue to hold its players accountable. And I’m really, really hoping that, more importantly, the rest of the players heard the message loud and clear.

But it just seems a little too good to be true. Maybe we’ve turned a corner in making players act like adults. But as long as we have high-priced lawyers and players with the money to hire them, I’m going to expect the worst.


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