The NFL on Monday announced it has rejected the Chiefs’ appeal in the matter of their alleged “tampering” with then-free agent receiver Jeremy Maclin last year.
And at this point the appropriate image is along the lines of John Belushi’s guitar-smashing routine in “Animal House.”
Desired result achieved. Damage done. Better off for it.
Shrug and say sorry.
It’s a shame, of course, that the Chiefs will lose a third-round pick in this year’s draft and a sixth-round pick next year.
They also will be fined $200,000 organizationally, down from $250,000, while coach Andy Reid is out $60,000 instead of the original $75,000 as general manager John Dorsey still loses $25,000.
All for what “Seinfeld” attorney Jackie Chiles would term an “outrageous, egregious, preposterous” ruling because of the model previous record of the Chiefs and the sheer capriciousness of the verdict in the context of past NFL transgressions.
“We appreciate the opportunity to make our appeal on this matter, and we acknowledge the minor reduction in fines imposed,” Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said in a statement. “However, we continue to believe that the facts of this case combined with the league’s inconsistent enforcement of its tampering policies do not warrant the most severe penalty for player-related tampering in league history.
“Having exhausted our options under the appeal process, we are turning the page on this issue and look forward to continuing our preparations for the 2016 season.”
And they can do that knowing it still was worth it for a player who not only changed the fundamental dynamics of the offense but also imposed his fierce will on those around him as the team last season won its first playoff game in more than two decades.
Before the news broke publicly on Monday, the first day of off-season training, the question was posed to Maclin whether he was worth a third-round pick.
“I hope so,” he said, smiling.
And then some.
So we can stew in the ruling and wonder how the NFL came to its conclusion in the first place — especially with the question of how it accounts for preexisting relationships such as the one Reid and Maclin enjoyed from their years together in Philadelphia.
And we can belabor the point of whether the appeals process was rigged or legitimate.
But in the end, it’s still … advantage, Chiefs.
Yes, breaking the rules is breaking the rules.
Yet, an old line comes to mind: “If the ends don’t justify the means, what does?”
This is mostly about a technicality — direct contact between the Chiefs and Maclin instead of between the Chiefs and his agent — and a rule that has been broken to much less severe punishment in the past.
Only last year, for instance, the Jets were fined a mere $100,000 for owner Woody Johnson’s meddling with cornerback Darrelle Revis when he publicly proclaimed he’d love to have him back.
No wonder Maclin said he was “shocked in a way” when he learned about the initial ruling.
“It’s been a weird situation, but I’m happy where I’m at,” he said. “I wouldn’t change it for the world, and everything else will take care of itself.”
Asked if he understood the specific transgression, Maclin said, “Yeah, but that stays within this building” and later added, “We have to take responsibility for what we do.”
So the exemplary Chiefs are being made an example of, and so be it.
When they signed Maclin to the five-year, $55-million deal, they got a game-breaker who had a career-best 87 receptions for 1,088 yards and eight touchdown catches for a team that had zero TD receptions by a wide receiver the season before.
They got a player who set a tone with his work ethic and feisty blocking and take-no-guff attitude, one who as the current elder of the receiving corps plans to keep showing the youngsters “how to be a true professional.”
He helped them through the playoff victory against Houston before being sidelined because of a fearsome-looking high ankle sprain.
And while the better team won in the Chiefs’ 27-20 loss at New England a week later, who knows how that would have gone if he’d been healthy?
Missing most of that game “hurt me, hurt my spirit,” Maclin said.
But his spirit is a big part of why the Chiefs still can expect to make noise again this season despite a thorny offseason that’s included the retirements of Husain Abdullah and Mike DeVito and the revelation of Justin Houston’s ACL injury.
You might call this another setback, but on balance the Chiefs are infinitely better off for having Maclin — whimsical penalty and all.