Few currently disagree with the notion that Rams Aaron Donald’s defensive tackle should be suspended for his behavior during Thursday’s joint practice session with the Bengals. Players who brandish helmets should always receive a significant penalty, regardless of whether the incident leads to a serious injury. Otherwise guys will keep brandishing helmets until someone is seriously injured — and then the NFL will be surprised that someone was seriously injured after being hit by a helmet.
The problem is, the NFL doesn’t monitor players’ behavior during training, even if it’s joint training. That means it’s up to the Rams to suspend him, if anyone is there.
Shall they? Coach Sean McVay has already said he doesn’t want to point the finger. Of course he isn’t, because that finger would be pointing at the player most responsible for covering him with a Super Bowl ring.
The league can punish the Rams for not controlling their boys. Can the league tell the Rams a significant penalty will be imposed on the team if Donald is not suspended? If so, the question becomes enough to suggest a penalty for the team to get the Rams to suspend Donald.
And if the Rams still don’t want to suspend Donald, the NFL should just do it. Even if the league does not control player behavior during training, the personal conduct policy applies everywhere, with no time or place limitation. It specifically prohibits this: “Violent or threatening conduct toward another employee or third party in a work environment.”
If NFL players are subject to the Personal Conduct Policy anytime, anywhere, doesn’t this apply during joint training? Isn’t that “any workplace setting”?
That’s the easy solution. Activate Judge Sue L. Robinson. Suggest a punishment. Have a hearing. Play the video. Case closed.
And if the NFL Players Association tries to turn chicken shit facts into a legal loophole for chicken salad, let them. What is the shame that the Commissioner is taking a strong stand for what is right?
If guys (especially those with Aaron Donald’s power) keep brandishing helmets in practice, eventually someone will get injured, or worse. And the league will have significant potential liability. Wouldn’t it be wise to say, if that ever happens, that they’ve tried everything they can to deter such behavior? Wouldn’t it be even better to actually deter such behavior?
The bottom line: When the Rams host the bills on the first Thursday night of the season, Donald is not allowed to be in the building. And then he should be gone for a few more weeks. If the Rams don’t do it, the NFL should.