In days of yore — maybe last year? — the NFL would have reaped the benefit of releasing a “tough” new personal conduct policy in the form of positive stories throughout a news cycle.
But now? Even as the NFL trots out the new policy, they are getting hammered from two fronts.
First, a new ESPN story that digs deeper into the inconsistencies in Roger Goodell’s handling of the Ray Rice story. That story undermines — in a good, well-reported way — a lot of whatever the NFL was trying to achieve today.
Second, the NFLPA, which has been at odds with owners and the commish during much of this season, released a statement blasting the league for not consulting with the players before releasing the new policy.
As a result, the NFL doesn’t get to own this positive story, even for a day. They probably don’t deserve to, and it’s nice to see the league constantly challenged the way it is now.
Listening to Vikings coach Mike Zimmer today reinforced the reality that those who pour their souls into the NFL don’t adhere to the term “meaningless” games.
Zimmer was asked if he pays attention to the playoff scenarios while preparing for that week’s opponent. At 6-7, the Vikings aren’t mathematically eliminated, but let’s just say it doesn’t look good. At least one website has listed their chances of making the playoffs at 0.1 percent. And that drops to eliminated if the Rams lose to the Cardinals on Thursday.
“I honestly don’t know the records of a lot of the teams,” Zimmer said. “It’s more about just Detroit. I know people have told me that if we win these and these people lose and this and that.”
Zimmer then paused and made it clear that even when the Vikings are eliminated, the final three games will make a difference in the building of a program and the mentality he’s looking to establish. And if you read between the lines, you can tell that a winning record, regardless of post-season participation, will mean an awful lot to the rookie head coach during a tumultuous season that began with a player getting shot in the calf after the preseason opener and took a hard turn south with Adrian Peterson being removed from the team after the regular season opener.
“I don’t want to get sentimental here, but we’ve come from a long, long way this year,” Zimmer said. “From all the things that have happened, all the things that we’ve overcame from even before the St. Louis game to the opportunities that we now have in the last three weeks. I think that’s a pretty good testament to our football team and how they work and how they do the things we ask them to.
“And the coaches, too. The coaches do really a great job in trying to figure out what we can do, how we can win, how we can get to an opportunity that we have.”
In other news:
Other than linebacker Michael Mauti’s season-ending arthroscopic knee surgery not being related to Mauti’s three torn ACLs in five years at Penn State, Zimmer didn’t give much of an injury update today. Like most coaches, he’s not a big fan of telling the other team where his guys are hurting most. Zimmer did say linebacker Anthony Barr (knee) was “feeling better.” We’ll have the first official injury report of the week later.