Tuna Appears Guilty Of Tampering With Bryant

January 15th, 2009
Dolphins executive Bill Parcells knows all too well what tampering is and may have done it again.

Dolphins executive Bill Parcells knows all too well what tampering is and may have done it again.

About a month ago, Joe read an article by Sean Jensen of Yahoo! Sports on the resurrection of Bucs wide receiver Antonio Bryant. In that article, a quote from Bryant jumped off of Joe’s computer monitor.

Bryant says he has spoken to [Bill} Parcells “on several occasions” and that the current Dolphins executive vice president “sends messages to me through other coaches.”

Among the messages: “Keep it up,” Bryant says.

(Parcells declined interview requests for this story, a Dolphins spokesman said last week.)

Joe quickly became curious as to why Parcells, otherwise known as “The Tuna,” would need a third-party, specifically third-party coaches, to talk to Bryant? Why not pick up the phone himself?

Second, what messages was Tuna sending to Bryant, his former player in Dallas?

Then it hit Joe: Bryant is a free agent after the season. Was Tuna, who has a history of being fingered for tampering, trying to lay the groundwork for Bryant to come to Miami for the 2009 season? It’s not like Tuna had never been accused of tampering in connection with the Bucs before.

So Joe reached out to a contact he has in the NFL front offices in New York recently to try to obtain the official NFL definition for tampering. Here’s what Joe learned:

Per the NFL’s Anti-Tampering Policy, the league defines tampering as:

The term tampering, as used within the National Football League, refers to any interference by a member club with the employer-employee relationship of another club or any attempt by a club to impermissibly induce a person to seek employment with that club or with the NFL.

Now granted, Joe is going on what Bryant told Jensen. If Bryant is to be believed, and if he was not yanking Jensen’s chain, there has been multiple times a third party of Tuna’s has contacted Bryant this past season. That’s not very kosher in the NFL’s eyes. Again, verbatim from the NFL tampering policy document:

Example of Tampering.

The following chain of events is enumerated here as one example of a violation of the policy against tampering with another club’s players:

1. A club’s representative, or a third-party intermediary of that club (Club A), is involved in a private meeting or conversation with a player (or his representative) who is under contract to, or whose negotiating rights are held by, another club (Club B); and

2. The League obtains substantiation that after or during the above contact with the player, Club A has stated, publicly or privately, its interest in obtaining his services (see “Public/Private Statements” below); and

3. Contract problems or other disputes subsequently arise between the player and Club B (for example, the player’s failure to report on time to Club B).

Well, news leaked out recently that the Bucs are in the midst of negotiations to resign Bryant. And if they bog down, the Bucs may slap Bryant with the franchise tag. With all the cap space the Bucs have, why use the franchise tag unless there may be a snag in negotiations and have contract negotiations stalled possibly because Tuna may be waving a carrot in front of Bryant’s face?

Though Joe is not a lawyer, and doesn’t stay at a Holiday Inn Express, it seems that, again, if Bryant is honest, Tuna could still be hit with tampering charges for employing a third-party to speak to Bryant. Once again, Joe quotes the NFL Tampering Policy:

In circumstances like those of the example above, tampering will be found even in the absence of a demonstrated cause-and-effect relationship between the player’s contract problems and his prior involvement with the other club. In other words, a club will not be able to defend a tampering charge in these circumstances by asserting that its private contact with a player (or the player’s representative) did not involve any expression of interest in the player or was not related in any way to the player’s subsequent contract problem with his club.

It appears that, provided Bryant wasn’t feeding Jensen a line of fertilizer, if the Glazer Boys or Bruce Almighty wanted to, they could go forward with tampering charges against Tuna.

Given Tuna’s history of tampering, Joe believes the Bucs should press forward with this issue.

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