Let it be known, in Roger Goodell's fantasy land, no one is safe from his hammer. Whether it be Josh Gordon potentially getting banned from the league for a year for just smoking weed, or Tom Brady getting accused all Super Bowl week of deflating footballs, we're on pace to see a league filled with naughty boys, or at least naughty in the eyes of Goodell. For the world's most overpaid liar and his cult of personality, every crime should elicit time, or at least thousands of dollars from the criminal. That includes the crime of not talking to reporters, as Marshawn Lynch would tell you. It's not like he's an individual human being with the right to choice when or when not to speak or anything. In Goodell's eyes, an NFL player is property of the NFL, and will behave as the NFL commands him to, no matter how ridiculous said command is.
I know many pundits and talking heads are already drooling at the very idea that Jameis Winston, accused rapist, convicted shoplifter, and possibly the dumbest Heisman Trophy winner in recent memory could be selected as the number one pick in the NFL Draft. After all, what team would be foolish and desperate enough to sacrifice any decent reputation and draft Winston over, say, Marcus Mariota? Mariota is a "good boy" by media standards, the kind of soft-spoken, humble, and handsome leader a team would die to have speaking on their behalf at a podium. Mariota's personality and clean track record indicates a bright future in the NFL, or at least one that's without controversy. Ah, how naive of you to believe. Let's see what convoluted crime Mariota and other future NFL prospects will be punished for during their time in the league.
The "Crime": Appearing on the cover of GQ and not holding a football
The Time: He has to coach a youth football team, Gordon Bombay-style.
Once Mariota enters the league, it'll be only a matter of time before he takes the title of "Handsome, Ethnically-Ambiguous Nice QB who even Racists Love" from Russell Wilson. He's exactly the kind of man the NFL would want representing them, which means they have to break him down just so they can be the ones who claimed they rebuilt him. Look at what happened with Michael Vick, and what's happening right now with Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson. Everybody likes to see the bad guy get punished, but they love a tale of "redemption" even more. They want to see Darth Vader throw the Emperor off of the balcony. That's why the NFL can't allow Mariota to just keep chugging along without any controversy. Goodell needs create a reason for Mariota to get lambasted, something juicy but not too heavy for the talking heads at ESPN to chew on for a minute. Then, when Mariota seems at his lowest, apologizing for being so damn handsome, Goodell is there with open arms, and gives Mariota his redemption moment. Then we forget it ever happened and move on to the next topic in the 24-hour news cycle.
The "Crime": Listening to that damn hippity-hop music
The Time: Has to explain rap music to Jon Gruden on an episode of Gruden's QB Camp
I don't know how much Jon Gruden really understands people outside of the context of football. Have you ever seen Jon Gruden speaking with a woman? Have you ever heard Jon Gruden discussing films or music? The idea of any person, much less Jameis Winston, having to explain certain aspects of modern popular culture to Job Gruden is an experiment I'd love to try. Here's an example excerpt from said conversation:
Jon: "So you're telling me there's no instruments when they play this music?"
Jameis: "Well, they're not really playing anything. It's more based around synthetic beats and samples of music from other songs."
Jon: "Y'know Mike, you go out onto that field every day, stealing music for your own music... it just doesn't seem very honest."
Jameis: "Did you just call me Mike?"
Jon: "You gotta make that read, Mike. Roll out of the pocket, take the step, throw it down the dagger route, and that's just how it's done. Football, Mike."
The "Crime": Accidentally called Clay Matthews "ma'am"
The Time: Has to be a guest on The View, or really any group-hosted talk show targeted towards housewives
A lot of TV-show based punishments, I know, but the NFL wants everybody to see how much they punish their own players. There's no greater crime, as we know, than being mean to a fellow football player. So when Amari Cooper accidentally calls one of the league's premier linebackers "ma'am" while looking at him from behind, you know sensitivity training is in order. By sensitivity training I'm referring to the show where rich, middle-aged women debate hot-button issues but also shoes. It's your Aunt's Facebook feed come to life!