Lawyers will tell you to “read the fine print.” And it’s that kind of fine print in the CBA of NFL contracts that is often important. And, in the case of the Jaguars disciplining defensive back Jalen Ramsey Sunday, they made very sure of the wording in their release to the media.
As we wrote, defensive line teammates Dante Fowler and Yannick Ngakoue got into screaming match and had to be separated twice from trying to fight at the end of Sunday’s practice. And, as that was going on, Florida Times-Union writer Phillip Heilman was taping it off his phone.
That’s when Ramsey began to scream profanely from a distance for him to stop.
Ramsey later sent a tweet, now deleted, that basically threatened Heilman for having filmed the altercation and put it on social media and in his story for Jacksonville.com.
So, the organization decided to take action Sunday evening against Fowler and Ramsey and suspend them from all team activities for this week. Those include practicing at Minnesota and the game Saturday with the Vikings. And the phrase that they used was “violating team rules and conduct unbecoming of a Jaguars football player.”
And, that’s an important distinction, as Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio points out:
By suspending him for "conduct unbecoming" instead of "conduct detrimental," Jaguars tiptoe around the voiding of Jalen Ramsey's guarantees https://t.co/RTNX5kawX1
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) August 13, 2018
As Florio wrote about “conduct unbecoming a Jaguar” vs. “conduct detrimental” makes a huge difference in the team being able to void guarantees in Ramsey’s rookie contract:
The Jaguars arguably could have dubbed the behavior “conduct detrimental” (and possibly would have won any grievance challenging it), but they opted instead to call it a violation of team rules and “conduct unbecoming,” which apparently is different than “conduct detrimental.”
So why the distinction-without-a-difference between “detrimental” and “unbecoming”? The Jaguars possibly wanted to impose discipline without voiding of the guarantees because: (1) the gesture is irrelevant as to Ramsey, a great player who isn’t going to be cut during the term of his rookie contract; and (2) the move may have inflamed the situation with Ramsey, who already may be upset at discipline he potentially regards as an overreaction.
Yes, it’s a small distinction that basically means the same thing: Ramsey gets a week off for discipline/bad behavior.
And there is no doubt that the front office carefully thought out the public way to announce the suspension, and then, be ready for any fallout, including from Ramsey and his representatives.
Bottom line, it was not a good look for the Jaguars Sunday.
And, the team is hoping to put it behind them, soon.
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