Extra Points: NFL is finally transparent with AP

(SportsNetwork.com) - MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, one of the architects of the Affordable Care Act, made headlines recently for telling the truth or, to be more specific, telling the truth as he sees it.

"Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage and basically, you know, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically, that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass," Gruber said of "Obamacare," in an unearthed 2013 video that went viral last week.

Transparency is generally the enemy of elites who believe in an end-justifies- the-means mentality. The general public, meanwhile, is supposed to sit quietly in the corner while the big boys talk and figure out what to do.

The NFL has employed a similar psychology when it comes to its personal- conduct policy over the years.

While it's more than fair to point out Roger Goodell is not responsible for the misdeeds of the players in his league, it's also legitimate to shine the spotlight on the policy itself while understanding it's the commissioner who cultivated an arbitrary atmosphere by picking and choosing where to get involved in regards to off-the-field incidents.

The league, however, has always believed its actions should be accepted without dissent or objection.

A lack of transparency and consistency to Goodell's actions over the years is what has fueled the current environment, whether you are focused on Ray Rice, Greg Hardy, Ray McDonald or most notably Adrian Peterson.

The you know what is about to hit the fan regarding Peterson, who wrapped up his legal issues earlier this month by pleading no contest to misdemeanor reckless assault charges.

A grievance hearing will be heard Monday because the NFLPA claims the league reneged on an agreement that Peterson would be reinstated immediately from the commissioner's exempt list upon resolution of his legal case.

If you take emotion out of a hot-button topic, there is little doubt that Peterson should have been on the field in Chicago on Sunday. After all, at the end of the day a first-time offender was hit with 80 hours of community service and a whopping $4,000 fine.

The league, however, spoke out of turn late last week, claiming Peterson skipped a disciplinary hearing scheduled for this past Friday, a tact which sent the NFLPA into a tizzy.

"The report that I backed out of a meeting with the NFL is just not true," Peterson said in a statement released and likely written for him by the NFLPA. "When Roger Goodell's office asked that I attend the 'hearing' on Friday, I consulted with my union and learned that this 'hearing' was something new and inconsistent with the CBA."

Back in September during Goodell's stilted, obsequious Midtown Manhattan press conference during the height of the personal-conduct scandals he promised changes.

"There will be changes to our personal conduct policy," the commish claimed. "I know this will happen because we will make it happen. Nothing is off the table. They will have a set of clear and transparent rules for league and club personnel, owners and players. My goal is to complete this work by the Super Bowl."

The problem, though, is that changes needs to be hammered out with the other side and the NFLPA hasn't agreed to anything the league is trying to force on Peterson.

In fact the union believes the league is unfairly targeting Peterson, deviating from its typical handling of player discipline with the intent of stalling and keeping Peterson off the field.

"The league office seems more focused on creating an arbitrary disciplinary process for Adrian instead of honoring a signed agreement to remove him from the commissioner's list," NFLPA spokesman George Atallah said. "They are simply making stuff up as they go along. They should commit their efforts to meeting us at the table to collectively bargain a new personal conduct policy."

The Peterson statement also delved into a process that is the farthest thing from the transparent pledge Goodell promised back in September.

"On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of this past week, my union sent emails, letters, and had conversations with (Goodell's) office on my behalf asking about the nature of the hearing, how it was to occur, who would participate, and its purpose," Peterson claimed. "We repeatedly asked them to respond quickly to my questions because I want to cooperate and get back on the field, but they didn't respond until late Wednesday evening, and even then they didn't answer important questions about their proposed 'hearing.'"

Wary of public relations issues, the NFL, most likely with the Vikings blessing, has been attempting to drag its feet, hoping against hope than the Peterson and his representation come to the conclusion that he's still regarded as a pariah by the public and the best-case scenario would be to start anew in 2015.

There are two fronts here. On a national level the NFL has absolutely nothing to fret about as far as blowback goes. Sponsors are never going to flee the league because it's the one television vehicle that has proven immune to an increasingly over-the-top digital distribution culture where streaming services like Netflix and Hulu continue to erode traditional viewership levels.

Consider the first-ever broadcast of the Hollywood Film Awards Friday on CBS, the so-called Tiffany Network and partner to the NFL. The broadcast averaged a dismal 0.5 rating and a 2.0 share in the all-important 18-49 year demographic -- tying with the CW and Univision for the night.

Conversely, earlier this month it was revealed that NFL game windows accounted for the entire top 10 and 26 of the top 30 most-watched programs on television since the season kicked off on Sept. 4.

The average NFL game telecast (including broadcast and cable) has drawn 18.0 million viewers, up from 16.8 million at this point in 2013 and more than double the average primetime viewership, which is 7.2 million for the so- called big four broadcast networks.

Things are a little different on the local level in Minnesota, a very liberal state governed with a keen eye on political correctness. Radisson already dumped a local sponsorship deal with the Vikings due to the A.P. scandal and others could threaten to follow suit if he returns.

The Vikings have every right to move on from Peterson in that case but if that's their plan, the organization should be forced to act and release the former All-Pro.

Keeping him in limbo is unfair and should not be the NFL's vision.

"At this point, I've resolved my matter in the criminal court; I've worked to make amends for what I've done; I've missed most of the season, and I stand ready to be candid and forthcoming with Mr. Goodell about what happened," Peterson explained.

"However, I will not allow the NFL to impose a new process of discipline on me, ignore the CBA, ignore the deal they agreed to with me, and behave without fairness or accountability. The process they are pushing is arbitrary, inconsistent, and contrary to what they agreed to do, and for those reasons, I never agreed to the hearing.

"I'm sorry for all of this, but I can't excuse their refusal to be fair."

The ultimate irony is the NFL's continued aversion to transparency coupled with its surreptitious behavior has actually clarified its ultimate and only real objective, protecting an image that is already corrupted.