Did The Cowboys Remove Video of Illegal Contact at Practice? Was It Even Illegal? This Is Football, Right?

Seriously, NFL? First you ban the clothesline, then you move kickoffs to within field goal range, and now you're handing out sanctions because people are trying too hard?

Some background: The league's collective bargaining agreement bans "contact work" in spring practices. Specifically, there's no tackling, pass rushing, live blocking or the use of bump-and-run coverage. Or, in other words, offseason workouts have been reduced to marathon footsies sessions.

Fuck footsies, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. Seattle was the first team to incur the NFL's wrath after footage of the their OTAs in which they sweated and grunted and lightly shoved each other was was used in a cute little promo video. They were working hard, and so someone in the media department thought it would inspire Seahawks fans to buy season tickets and stand outside in the freezing rain and cheer their team on to another 7-9 season.

The NFL slapped the Hawks with a three-day practice ban last week, and the incriminating evidence was likely found on the video. This, of course, raises a question: Who's the thirsty deep throat that signed up for that position? What kind of snitchery is that?

ESPN caught wind of the Seahawks' sanctions and did some reporting of their own.did some digging among the promo archives and found a video that showed the Cowboys also looking guilty of maybe running too fast or sweating too hard. In the Cowboys' video, they show people even falling to the ground.

The video was still live last night, but strangely, when we went to look today, the link was still live but there was no video to be found. So we emailed Cowboys spokesman Rich Dalrymple for an explanation. Does the video's sudden disappearance have anything to do with last week's Seahawks incident?

"No," Dalrymple wrote back. "They just rotate video on and off the site on a regular basis."

Maybe. What's curious is that the Dallas promo in question was shot and uploaded last week, June 6th, at Dallas' OTAs. The Cowboys' multimedia archives, though, has films dating back to early May. Yet for some reason, we couldn't find the video from last Wednesday.

What would truly be sad is if the Cowboys are actually covering their tracks to protect themselves from a slightly farcical rule. Because look, we've heard about the players who give a clear picture of the profound, maybe unrivaled danger of the NFL: men dead on their feet even as they down painkillers, strap on their helmets and take another hit. Men left so scatterbrained after their careers that they can no longer care for themselves. Men who take their own lives.

We understand the spirit of the rule, that the NFL and its players are trying to curb, or at least pretending to try to curb, the damage a player takes over the span of his career. But NFL players are among the largest, strongest people in the world, and they're professionals, and they're on the same team. They should be able to do a little slapping and shoving.

And the league? It should stop setting trying to convince us that it cares about these guys' brains. Stop pushing an 18-game season and we'll talk.

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Greg Howard