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Richard Connor: Why play fair when there’s so little cost for cheating?

🕐 3 min read

In today’s world, what is the consequence of lying, cheating, and violating the basic tenets of a business?

Its seems as though the answer is: little or nothing.

The New England Patriots’ talented, glamorous, NFL cover boy, quarterback Tom Brady, gets caught lying and cheating about footballs being deflated so he could throw better.

What happens?

The NFL gives him a four-game suspension – which will be appealed, and if precedent is followed that suspension will be cut in half.

Brady’s Super Bowl-winning team was fined $1 million and denied a couple of draft picks. This is a team that has previously been caught spying on opponents in violation of league rules; cheating appears to be in the Patriots’ DNA.

More than 50 years ago, Green Bay Packers star running back and NFL Player of the Year Paul Hornung was banished from football for an entire season for betting on NFL games. Detroit Lions defensive tackle Alex Karras joined him in that suspension.

Their bets were usually for $100 up to $500 and were rare. Mostly they bet with friends and none of their bets were ever thought to affect the outcome of games.

When the punishment was handed down, Hornung accepted responsibility. “I am truly sorry,” he said.

No whining, indignant denials of wrongdoing or threats of legal action. Unlike Brady and Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Paul Hornung showed his class. He just swallowed his punishment and apologized.

One of the greatest baseball players ever, Pete Rose, has been banned for life and effectively shut out of baseball’s Hall of Fame because he bet on games. Some of the biggest stars of the national pastime have been slapped with lengthy suspensions for using performance enhancing drugs – and rightly so. There should be a high price to pay for cheating.

But NFL commissioner and self-styled disciplinarian Roger Goodell barely laid a glove on Tom Brady and now seems ready to back away from at least part of the punishment he handed down just two weeks ago. Come on. Stand up for something and truly be a model for youth and for business.

Then we have the national news networks, NBC and ABC. All journalists know that credibility is their most important asset; they also know that reporters should not make financial contributions to politicians.

NBC’s Brian Williams has been exposed for fabricating stories about his reporting career. What happens to the nightly news anchor? He gets a temporary suspension.

And more recently, ABC news star and Sunday talk show host George Stephanopoulos is discovered to have donated $75,000 to the Clinton Foundation since 2011. Executives at the network have concluded the donations reflect no conflict of interest.

What?

The donations signify a cardinal sin in the news business. Stephanopoulos should be fired, just as Brian Williams should have been. In fact, Stephanopoulos should not have been hired in the first place. He was a key figure in Bill Clinton’s political campaigns and presidential administrations. ABC could have made him a panelist on talk shows or an “analyst,” but it never should have cast him in the role of a reporter/newsman.

His biases are obvious.

What this country needs is some good old-fashioned 1960s and ’70s outrage – protests, anti-establishment rebellion. We need people to rail against phoniness and injustice and double standards.

Cops kill black men on the streets of our cities. Liars and cheaters get a slap on the wrist. Sports heroes turn out not to be heroes. Media leaders bend the rules and expect to be trusted.

And we wonder why so few people vote? Why there is less involvement and curiosity in the events of the world around us? Seems like the bad guys can do whatever they want and get away with it. It’s the rest of us who suffer the consequences.

Richard Connor is chairman of the Business Press’ parent company, DRC Media. Contact him at rconnor@bizpress.net.

Richard Connor
Richard Connor is the owner and CEO/Publisher of DRC Media, the parent company of the Fort Worth Business Press. he also owns newspapers in Virginia. Mr. Connor held a number of corporate media executive positions before founding his own company. He is an award-winning columnist and at one time wrote a weekly column on national politics for CQ Politics, the online version of Washington, D.C.-based Congressional Quarterly.

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