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Romeo Crennel's Combine Comments are Tampering, But So Are Several Other Leaks

This weekend, Kansas City head coach Romeo Crennel was in Indianapolis and made some interesting comments, when asked about Peyton Manning.

“I’m not supposed to talk about anyone else’s players. He’s still a player with Indianapolis. But with a talent like that, I would be crazy not to consider it if he were available. I’ll leave it at that.”

He should have left it before that. He could have said something bland like “we will consider any player once they become available.” As it stands, though, that statement qualifies under the definition of tampering. The Kansas City Star has that definition right here involving statements made by team officials:

“Any public or private statement of interest, qualified or unqualified, in another club’s player to that player’s agent or representative, or to a member of the news media, is a violation of this Anti-Tampering Policy. (Example of a prohibited comment: “He’s an excellent player, and we’d very much like to have him if he were available, but another club holds his rights.”)”

By the definition, Crennel’s statements are tampering, and it does not matter that he added that qualifier at the beginning. The issue facing the league is how they want to pursue it, and how forcefully they are going to come down on the Peyton Manning issue. Practically, this isn’t a case of an impending young free agent where comments influence whether he will take a contract offer from the home team or “test the waters.” The Colts and Manning are done, even if it is not official, and he isn’t getting a 28 million payment. This statement really doesn’t affect Manning’s or the Colts’ decision in any way. A rule is a rule, though, and Crennel shouldn’t have said it.

It does, however, create a slippery slope on the Manning issue. Crennel sped right past the officer. Others are blowing by, too, but aren’t being so obvious about it at a public press conference. If the league punishes Kansas City, do they then take some time to dig into others?

When I write about teams that I think should be interested, I am offering opinions based on looking at teams, and not basing it on any inside information. When Adam Schefter tweets out, “[t]here were teams at the combine that once said they wouldn’t pursue Peyton Manning now pondering that possibility. Interest in 18 is high,” he’s basing that on conversations with team officials. He’s not just talking to the cab driver.

Okay, so that’s a generic statement where no particular team is implicated, though. We have seen plenty of stories acknowledging team interest. The Dolphins want a franchise quarterback, and sources indicate Manning is at the top of their wish list. Notice the definition of tampering includes private statements made to a member of the media by a team official. Oh, the Redskins are interested too. The Cardinals? The talk about their interest has certainly been reported as well. I could probably find stories on ten other teams where the local beat writer talks about how the team would have interest in Manning–not should, but would.

So Crennel may have just cut out the middle man, and rather than talk to a writer as a source, made his statements in a press conference. Bob Glauber says that the Colts are not inclined to pursue tampering charges against the Chiefs. The league could still choose to examine it independently. My guess is that the NFL will go Sergeant Schultz here, because if the league is going to penalize the Chiefs, then they can start looking elsewhere, too. By April, the Colts may own the seventh round of the draft if that happens.

[photo via US Presswire]

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