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Michael Silver on M&M: ‘Arbitrary nature’ of NFL discipline troubling

08.25.11 at 1:48 pm ET
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Yahoo! Sports NFL writer Michael Silver joined the Mut & Merloni show Thursday afternoon, and he spent much of the conversation talking about Albert Haynesworth and the league’s disciplinary policy. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Haynesworth struck a deal with prosecutors Monday and pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor assault charge in a case involving a hotel restaurant waitress in Washington. There has been speculation that the new Patriots defensive lineman will escape punishment from commissioner Roger Goodell.

“In terms of Haynesworth, it’s another example of the arbitrary nature by which these things seem to be decided, and that’s how Roger Goodell likes it,” Silver said. “I believe in the negotiating process for this new CBA that [DeMaurice] Smith and the union should have pushed for some clarity in that process, among other things. And the notion that some of these people are now facing discipline for conduct that occurred during the lockout, to me, is just staggering. And if [Smith] signed off on that type of deal for some of them, as I report he did today, I think that’s just a terrible move by the union.”

Added Silver: “From what I can tell from the reports, it doesn’t look like [Haynesworth will be suspended], and that would be inconsistent. Players are troubled by the inconsistencies. I think what troubles them more is that when it comes to non-players, it’s just outright hypocrisy. Exhibit A being Tom Cable, when he was the coach of the Oakland Raiders [in August 2009], walking into a meeting with four assistants, one of whom emerged with a broken jaw and later told me Tom Cable tackled him and hilarity ensued.

“Roger Goodell exonerated Tom Cable. He never interviewed Randy Hanson, the assistant in question, who had the broken jaw. To my knowledge, he never interviewed Tom Cable or the other three witnesses in that room. And then he went out and said, ‘You know what, it’s all good. No punishment for Tom Cable.’

“If you’re a player, and you see something like that, and then you have guys getting punished for alleged offenses — or in Ben Roethlisberger‘s case, an offense for which he was not even charged — I think you wonder how there can be such a double standard.”

Touching on the Patriots’ prospects for the upcoming season, Silver expressed cautious optimism, specifically when talking about the defense.

“They’ve obviously invested in a lot of young players — some they’ve hit on, some they’ve missed — and tried to load up again to approach where they were when they were a mostly veteran defense that was winning Super Bowls,” Silver said. “I believe Bill [Belichick] will, in terms of strategy, figure out the best way to deploy them. That’s one thing I don’t worry about with him.

“Will the players live up to their draft status and some of the flashes we’ve seen from guys like [Jerod] Mayo and [Brandon] Meriweather and [Devin] McCourty and others? I sort of feel like they’ll be better this year. Remember, they had a bad playoff game, but this was obviously a very, very good team for most of the season. And anytime you’ve got the best owner, coach and quarterback in football, you’ve got a really good chance to do well.”

Read More: Albert Haynesworth, Ben Roethlisberger, Bill Belichick, DeMaurice Smith
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