Most NFL teams have caste systems, there is no way around it.
That was on full display in Buffalo recently.
On Saturday, the Bills released running back Karlos Williams, suspended for the first four games of the season due to a couple of failed NFL drugs tests.
“Every decision that’s made — whether you get tired of me saying it or not — every decision is made on three factors, and those three things are the team first, the team second, and the team third,” Bills coach Rex Ryan said after cutting Williams, supposedly because he was overweight (but he has six weeks to get into shape — the rest of camp and during his suspension).
On Saturday, the team’s nose tackle, Marcell Dareus — also suspended for the first four games due to drugs — entered rehab, and the team announced they totally support his efforts to get clean.
“As a football team, as a family, we came together and we support Marcell Dareus 100 percent,” Ryan said. “I’m excited about the young man trying to change his life.”
Why not support Williams and help him “change his life?”
And Rex, isn’t every decision about “team first, the team second, and the team third?”
Dareus, the team’s standout nose tackle, hurts the team big-time because he refuses to stop smoking pot. His absence leaves a big hole in the middle of the Bills defensive line for their first four games.
The hypocrisy of most NFL teams when it comes to helping, or cracking down on, troubled players, is quite apparent.
Dareus is a star nose tackle; Williams is a backup running back.
Also, Dareus signed a six-year, $96.6 million contract last year with $60 million guaranteed. Williams, a 2015 fifth-round pick, signed a four-year deal for $2.4 million. So, the Bills eat a lot less money cutting Williams compared to Dareus.
Welcome to the NFL caste system where star players are treated one way, and second-tier players are treated another.
Don’t blame Commissioner Roger Goodell for this. The blame for this double-standard lies on the team level.
On August 10, Los Angeles Rams coach Jeff Fisher released backup wide receiver Deon Long for bringing a woman into his training camp dorm. A camera from an HBO show chronicling Rams training camp captured the transgression.
“What part of the rules, what part of ‘no female guests in the room,’ did you not understand?” Fisher asked Long in a meeting broadcast on national television.
“Sorry, but this is our world, man. We have rules and we have to abide by them. Not the first time I’ve done this for this particular violation, but I thought I made myself really clear.”
Do you think that if starting receiver Tavon Austin, or star pass rusher Robert Quinn, brought a woman into their dorm, Fisher cuts the player? No way. And the Vince Lombardi-like diatribe he provided for HBO probably doesn’t happen either.
So next time you hear an NFL coach talking tough about team rules, remember that two sets of rules — one for the starters/highly-paid players, and another for the backups — apply.