The Baltimore Ravens are under investigation by the NFL for violating terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and could be penalized a monetary fine.
Per an ESPN report, along with additional information from The Baltimore Sun, the Ravens put pads on their rookies and first-year players during rookie minicamp, which violates the terms of Article 22, Section 5 of the CBA, which explicitly states, “There will be no…use of pads (helmets permitted) at minicamps.”
The Ravens were under the impression that rookie minicamp didn’t fall under the same purview as other minicamps, even though there’s a section for “Rookie Minicamps” in Section 7 of Article 22.
Former Patriots tight end, and current Ravens NFL Players Associations representative Ben Watson notified the Ravens that they were in violation of the CBA after five minutes, and Baltimore subsequently pulled their players off the field and made them take off their pads. Practices are recorded so the evidence should be readily available.
The Ravens were found in violation of the CBA during organized team activities in 2010. Since John Harbaugh was the head coach for both violations, it would stand to reason that the penalty levied by the league should note:
“factors that merit strong consideration in assessing discipline. The first is the club’s prior record.
In 2007 the club and several individuals were sanctioned for videotaping signals of opposing defensive coaches in violation of the Constitution and Bylaws. Under the Integrity of the Game Policy,this prior violation of competitive rules was properly considered in determining the discipline in this case.“
Per the CBA, a second violation includes a $250,000 fine for the head coach and a $500,000 fine for the franchise, with a caveat that the penalties could be reduced, or completely vacated, by the commissioner if the violator actually and honestly misinterpreted the rules.
What cannot be vacated by the commissioner is the enforced loss of a practice week, per Article 21, Section 8(d)(ii). The rule states that a team found in violation would lose the next scheduled week of organized team activities (minicamps excluded), regardless of whether or not commissioner Roger Goodell levies a monetary penalty against the Ravens.
The reality is that the Ravens probably won’t have anything done to them since they immediately responded upon recognizing they broke the rule. Anyone with a brain can recognize that five minutes in pads for a non-contact punt protection drill will have no impact on the upcoming season.
Although, to borrow from the immortal words of Troy Vincent,
“It is impossible to determine whether this activity had an effect on the outcome of games or what that effect was…But this has never been a significant factor in assessing discipline. There are many factors which affect the outcome of a game. It is an inherently speculative exercise to try to assign specific weight to any one factor. The key consideration in any case like this is that the playing rules exist for a reason, and all clubs are entitled to expect that the playing rules will be followed by participating teams. Violations that diminish the league’s reputation for integrity and fair play cannot be excused simply because the precise impact on the final score cannot be determined.”
We will never hear the end of this story if the Ravens win any games in 2016 due to superior punt blocking.
So will the NFL show any consistency in their punishments? Will they go overboard against the Ravens, like they did against the Chiefs? Or will they sweep it under the rug, like they did against the Jets? That remains to be seen.
It also should be noted that the NFLPA filed a complaint against a whopping 15 teams for having veterans at rookie camps in 2015, but we didn’t hear anything about them. My money is on “under the rug.”