Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

End Brackens' Holdout the New NFL Way: C-H-E-A-T

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

End Brackens' Holdout the New NFL Way: C-H-E-A-T

Article excerpt

What's the holdup here? There is actually an easy solution to the Jaguars paying Tony Brackens the Eddie Georgian salary sum he so desires and still fitting his paycheck under the team's shrinking salary cap.

Let me spell it out for you:

C-H-E-A-T.

You heard me: Pay Brackens under the table. Team veepee Michael Huyghue could deliver a briefcase full of money to Brackens and not report it to the league. Owner Wayne Weaver could give him 100,000 shares of Liz Claiborne stock without Commish Tags ever having a clue. Coach Tom Coughlin could promise to buy Brackens' parents a quaint little six-bedroom, five-bath bungalow in his exclusive Marsh Landing neighborhood.

Why not? If you believe Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis -- and I do -- many other NFL teams are cheating to circumvent the salary cap. Davis told USA Today earlier this week that the problem "is worse than gambling. In the long history of professional sports, there has never been a dishonest breach of integrity like this. We've had players, we've had executives, sometimes officials. But we've never had owners cheating to gain a competitive advantage."

It's just too bad Al Dice Clay is sounding this alarm. Because Davis is such an unsavory crackpot, there is a tendency for league officials and the general public to roll their eyes and say, "There goes Crazy Al again."

Weaver, for one, doesn't think cheating is nearly as rampant as Davis suggests. He says owners aren't trying to intentionally break the rules as much as they're trying to creatively manipulate them.

"Cheating is a strong word," Weaver says. "I believe in the integrity of the owners in this league. Not that I'm naive. Obviously, we're all looking for ways to advance our clubs, but I think we do it honestly, not with the thought of intentionally breaking the rules."

Adds Huyghue: "I don't know if it's people cheating as much as everybody is looking for loopholes."

Maybe I'm just not as trusting of my fellow man as Weaver and Huyghue, but I have a difficult time believing the NFL doesn't have its fair share of crooks. …

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