NFL Suspends, Fines Dungy
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell took unprecedented action against one of the league's most prominent coaches on Friday.
Tony Dungy, the head coach of the defending Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts has been fined $1,000,000 and suspended four games for comments he made regarding rival coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots, and further punishment may be forthcoming.
Goodell, in a letter to Dungy, said that Dungy's recent comments to the media constituted "conduct detrimental to the league."
On Thursday, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots organization were sanctioned for a minor mistake in interpreting league rules.
"At that point, we assumed the matter was over," Goodell stated.
Not unlike other NFL celebrities, Dungy refused to let sleeping dogs lie.
"Really, sad day for the NFL," Dungy said at a press conference on Friday.
He also compared Belichick and the Patriots to Barry Bonds, suggesting that their accomplishments may have been tarnished.
Goodell was understandably unhappy with the accusation that the Patriots Super Bowl victories should be called into question.
"Comments like that can cause real damage.
People hear that and think, 'the Patriots don't deserve their Super Bowl trophies.'
It's almost like they've been taken away, which would be completely unfair."
Goodell then suggested that the Colts' championships might be taken away and awarded to the Patriots.
"Has Tony talked to Bill about this?"
Goodell asked at an interview in his office Friday afternoon.
"It really wasn't a big deal.
Apparently Bill just wanted to be able to watch the game later without having to listen to the announcers."
Goodell then began making out with a framed picture of Belichick he keeps on his desk.
"Look, Bill told me he just didn't understand the rule or the letter we sent out two days before the game last week, and I believe him,"
Goodell said as he came up for air.
"He's a football genius, not a reading genius."
The rule in question has caused a great deal of tension because of its complexity.
The rule states that "no video recording devices of any kind are permitted to be in use in the coaches' booth, on the field, or in the locker room during the game."
The September 6, 2007 letter to all NFL teams only confused the matter, stating that "videotaping of any type, including but not limited to taping of an opponent's offensive or defensive signals, is prohibited on the sidelines, in the coaches' booth, in the locker room, or at any other locations accessible to club staff members during the game."
"Harvard Law School professors could argue about these rules for hours.
In the end, anyone that didn't show absolute support for the Pats would be fired, tenure or no," said no less an authority than former commissioner Paul Tagliabue.
"Heck, we could never really figure that one out in my day.
But we did have one rule everyone understood: don't mess with Belichick."
Dungy, summoned to New York to speak with the commissioner about his own misinterpretation of Belichick's misinterpretation of the rules, was apologetic late Friday.
"I would like to apologize to the coach Belichick, the Patriots organization, and the Patriots fans for my mistake," Dungy said.
"I will never speak ill of coach Bill Belichick again.
He is an amazing coach, to whom all NFL players, coaches, employees, and fans owe their respect and unwavering allegiance."
Some observers thought that Dungy looked contrite and unemotional, as though he were reading his apology.
However, others thought Dungy looked visibly upset with himself, having apparently caused several injuries to himself in his grief and shame.
Most notable was a black eye and a large gash across his forehead.
The NFL provided additional security to protect Tony from angry fans, and also from himself.
Throughout his visit, two men in military uniforms of unknown origin and armed with assault rifles kept a close watch on Dungy.
"They're treating me well here," he added.
If the commissioner doesn't believe Dungy's apology is sincere, more penalties may be added.
One member of the NFL competition committee suggested that further punishment could include instructing the officials to call the upcoming Patriots-Colts game, and their inevitable playoff meeting, in a one sided manner.
"Well, we've never done this before, but maybe we could hint to the refs that they shouldn't call any pass interference calls on the Patriots.
We've never really thought about how something like that might work, though."
Other options that were heard in the halls of the NFL head office on Friday included forcing approximately 10,000 Colts fans to relocate from Indiana to Massachusetts and cheer for the Patriots.
Rumors also flew that Goodell is considering appointing Matt Millen to the post of General Manager of the Colts, a move that could cripple the organization for decades.
While exactly what Goodell will do in addition to those sanctions already imposed is unclear, it is clear that he won't stop until Tony Dungy learns the most important lesson of all from this: nobody talks to Bill Belichick that way.
In related news, New York Jets Coach Eric Mangini, who caused this entire incident by reporting the Patriots' camera work, has been black-listed from the NFL and had his home repossessed, which was not previously thought to be within the authority of the NFL commissioner.
Also, former Tennessee Titan Adam "Pacman" Jones has been reported missing.
He was last seen heading to a late night meeting with Goodell in a quiet industrial area of New York City.