Loser, losers, and loser: the Tamba Hali situation
The Kansas City Star
There are no winners in the Tamba Hali news. Tamba loses, the NFL loses, and most importantly to Chiefs fans, the team loses. A losing player, a losing team, and a losing commissioner.
Tamba did a dumb thing. No matter what the substance — and based on it being a one-game suspension and not four, it is apparently not a performance-enhancing drug — he did a dumb thing. There’s a saying in sports that to get caught you actually have to fail two tests: drug and IQ. Tamba’s a smart guy, but he put his team in a bad spot, missing a game against Matt Ryan and Roddy White and Julio Jones that the Chiefs will absolutely need him. His teammates are saying they’ll approach it just like an injury, but that’s stretching what happened. It’s not an injury. Tamba is perfectly healthy. He just won’t be able to play because he did a dumb thing. Also, the suspension and fine mean he made a $1.3 million mistake which tells you two things: NFL pass rusher is a good gig if you can get it, and Tamba just took a big hit.
The Chiefs lose because combined with Brandon Flowers’ (and Kendrick Lewis, for that matter) situation, this is a wounded defense in both the pass rush and pass defense. The defense had every look of being one of the better units in the NFL, but now? Notsomuch. The AFC West figures to be as close — though hopefully better, because good grief, that was bad — as it was last year and here comes a precious home game where the Chiefs’ chances just got diminished. Romeo Crennel has a few weeks to figure out how to make up for Tamba’s absence, which helps, but whatever chance you thought the Chiefs had against the Falcons you have to take it down a bit now. In a year when the division might come down to a tiebreaker, it could be a season-changing thing.
And the NFL loses because Roger Goodell can’t help himself. If this was performance-enhancing drugs, fine. Bang four games. But that’s apparently not the case, which leads an NFL spokesman to attempt to clarify to Babb that Tamba’s situation is “unique” and “isn’t defined specifically by the substance abuse policy.” So what we have is one more example of the commissioner operating with a CBA that’s already in his favor going beyond the required call of duty. Without knowing exactly what Tamba did, this is a commissioner apparently using personal discretion because … well, because he can.
The NFL has player safety issues with an inherently dangerous game, problems with retired players benefits, a still outdated and fan-unfriendly blackout policy, a potentially devastating strike by the officials, a million other issues, but the commissioner is apparently taking time out of all that to suspend and fine a guy for doing something that by league admission isn’t defined by the substance abuse policy.
Sometimes it feels like he thinks people would rather watch him commission than watch the players play.