Now that the Raiders have charged the Patriots with tampering, Oakland is going to have to prove it.
If it can, New England could face league-imposed penalties. If it cannot — and the Patriots always have maintained that Oakland owner Al Davis gave them permission to meet and talk with Randy Moss the Saturday before the trade was completed for the star WR — then the NFL is expected to discipline the Raiders, likely in the form of a fine.
The tampering charges that Davis leveled did not provide the Raiders with a competitive advantage so Oakland would not be expected to be docked draft picks. But it could face a hefty fine from the league if they are unable to back up their charge.
Either way, it sets up an intriguing showdown to complement the ongoing one between Davis and former Raiders coach Lane Kiffin.
The NFL takes accusations against other teams, and especially tampering charges, extremely seriously. In fact, after the Spygate incident last year, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sent out a memo warning teams to treat other teams with respect.
Then, just last June, Goodell followed it up with yet another memo warning that it would investigate charges that teams make against other teams very closely and that it frowned upon any team-to-team criticism. Well, we now have Exhibit A of the type of case that Goodell warned other teams about.
During the press conference in which he fired Kiffin, Davis said the Patriots tampered with Moss before Oakland traded the mercurial receiver to New England for a fourth-round pick that turned out to be defensive back John Bowie.
“But what’s his name (former Raiders executive Mike Lombardi) knew he could run, he’s a friend of (Bill) Belichick’s,” Davis said. “Mike sold what’s his name, Belichick, on the idea that he could run. They tampered with him. I remember (Patriots owner) Bob Kraft saying that he had to look (Moss) in the eye and all that. They went down and worked him out, he could run. He’s their team, of course, with the quarterback (Brady).”
The Patriots, snared in last season’s Spygate case, are understandably sensitive to any further allegations of improprieties. They noticed Davis’ comments immediately and were not happy. The Patriots insist they are innocent of all charges and did everything with Moss above board, with Davis’ permission. The Raiders clearly believe otherwise.
But this much is certain: Raiders owner Al Davis is going to be conversing with the NFL about more than Kiffin. He will be conversing with the league on the evidence of Patriots tampering that he does or does not have.