An Open Letter To Mr. Brown, Lewis, Upshaw and Goodell

By Gregory Moore
Updated: January 28, 2007

SAN ANTONIO– With the big game basically a week away, it seems that the only truly big news, outside of Reggie Bush’s extortion case, is that of another Cincinnati Bengals player being arrested. To say that I’m the least bit surprised by this latest incident is an understatement.

I’m beyond surprised or shocked now. I’m beyond being upset because it doesn’t do myself any good. Why should I care about a bunch of grown men who don’t realize they have the tiger by the tail?

I pondered that and numerous other questions this past weekend because I’m having a hard time understanding the mentality of today’s professional athlete. And in my pondering of why we have so many athletes, namely NFL players, acting the way that they do, I thought maybe if I just penned an open letter to a few folk, I may be able to get the answers I’m looking for.

So thus here is my open letter to some people who need to help us fans understand what the heck is going on in this day and age.

“Dear Mr. Brown, Lewis, Goodell and Upshaw: Good afternoon gentlemen.

I am writing you as a very disgruntled fan of the NFL. It seems that the National Football League, the Cincinnati Bengals and the NFLPA have no desire to unseat the unruliness and societal defiance attitudes that make up what is known as the Cincinnati Bengals.

Gentlemen, to date nine NFL players have disgraced the league, owners, corporate sponsors, their families, fans and their fellow NFL members. I think the mere fact that nine young men, mainly African American, top draft choices and would be contributors to their team, have been allowed to just stay in the league because of lax morality clause issues is absurd and that ultimately, the failure of these nine men fall squarely upon your shoulders as executives of the league and the franchise.

I wanted to address some concerns with the four of you collectively because it seems that separately, nothing has been said of substance about this issue. First and foremost, when will the Bengals’ management realize that dealing with societal hoodlums is not the way to build a quality football team?

Surely Mr. Lewis and Mr. Brown, you do realize that the majority of the young men you have brought in over a two year span lacked the discipline and “home training” to be a representative of your team. For you this year has been extremely disappointing and if the starting quarterback has come out and publicly lambasted a troublemaker like what is on your team, then there is a major problem.

What do the four of you plan to do about these unnecessary arrests and humiliating cases? How can the four of you sit back and say that your hands are tied when each and every case mentioned has been that of a moral clause situation. Let me use your own NFL words against you: “Engaging in violent and/or criminal activity is unacceptable and constitutes conduct detrimental to the integrity and public confidence in the National Football League”.

“Such conduct alienates the fans on whom the success of the League depends and has negative and sometimes tragic consequences for both the victim and the perpetrator. The League is committed to promoting and encouraging lawful conduct and to providing a safe and professional workplace for its employees.”.

Did you truly mean what you said in that language? Do any of you subscribe to the premise that society’s laws are paramount to the rules that are set by the NFL and that any law broken by a member is automatically subjected to the premise of being a violator of this conduct policy?

“Gentlemen I ask this question because it seems that all of you and your peers seem to be looking for an excuse not to punish these players in a swift manner. From my point of view, it seems that the league and the teams would rather let the public court of opinion take form and form opinions rather than swiftly removing the problems, as they exist. For example, how can an individual like Chris Henry be allowed to still be a member of the Bengals when he was involved in a crime that involved minors?

His numerous arrests and court appearances should be something that raised many red flags about his character both on and off the field. Let’s fast forward a bit. How will this team handle candidates with troubled backgrounds in the near future? Mr. Lewis you have told the Cincinnati Enquirer that this off-season, the club will be looking harder at the character of a player and not just athletic ability.

I’m sorry but isn’t that something that should have been in the process to begin with? And just how hard is it for you to actually do a background check on all your draft candidates anyway? The question falls actually to you, Mr. Goodell and Mr. Upshaw. Just how difficult is it for the league to go ahead and to have a background database available to all the teams of every potential draft pick?

Gentlemen, from my standpoint on this issue, it is a no-brainer. The NFL wants a sort of criminal element because it gives the league this perceived ‘street cred’ bravado. Great citizenship and above average talent is something that this league does not want. If it did, nine Bengals’ players wouldn’t have been arrested this year and many of those players would not be on this team’s roster.

Gentlemen, I understand the salary cap issues and what the CBA stands for as far as fair and equal treatment in such cases. But let’s be real about the language that is in that collective bargaining agreement. When it comes to the crimes that these young men commit against society, the league simply slaps them on the wrist and keeps giving them chances to become increasingly worse as they get older.

So I ask the four of you when will the league, the Bengals, and the other teams finally realize that tougher action is needed? In the real world, an employee who has had the issues of these troubled athletes would have been fired because it is a privilege to work for that company. So what is the difference between the real world and the NFL?

In my opinion gentlemen, it shouldn’t be a disparity at all. If you want make sure that your fan base believes in your product, you need to punish your players accordingly. Criminal activity should not be taken lightly and right now it seems that this league has spear headed that very principle when it comes to handling players who get into legal trouble and who have embarrassed themselves, their families, the team and the league.

Sincerely, Greg Moore A fan first and fore most” Well at least I felt a little better.

Maybe one day I’ll get the guts to actually openly send it.