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Close, but no Cigar: The humanity of four-legged creatures (and the inhumanity of two-legged ones)

  The late, great Cigar

The late, great Cigar

Am I the only one who is seriously disturbed by the rumblings that came out of the recent meetings between NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and his 32 bosses, uh, owners of the league’s teams?

Apparently, the league is considering the assignment of disciplinary actions to an outside committee, even though Goodell says his primary responsibility is to safeguard the integrity of the game. So wouldn’t the safeguarding of the game’s integrity require taking responsibility for disciplining miscreants? (An aside: This is a misuse of the word “integrity.” Goodell really means the game’s honesty. All integrity means is wholeness. The league could be wholly good or wholly bad. Either way it would still have integrity.)

English lessons aside, the real problem here is the absence of leadership. NBA commissioner Adam Silver had no trouble getting rid of former Los Angeles Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling after his racist remarks. So why should Goodell have trouble executing the new personal conduct policy the league is going to come up with?

Allow me to answer that: Because the league would rather pass the buck on this whole domestic violence mess. The commissioner is perfectly capable of lowering the boom when it comes to what really matters to the league. A case in point: San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick was fined $10,000 for – wait for it – wearing Beats headphones at the press conference following the team’s victory over the Kansas City Chiefs last Sunday? Why? Because the league has a contract with Bose, and players must use Bose headphones when representing the league.

OK, we know Colin likes to push the envelope and that his “us against them” coach, Jim Harbaugh, encourages him to test the limits of authority. But the pink headphones he wore around his neck were in honor of his grandmother – a breast cancer survivor. Yet this is the kind of “transgression” the league worries about punishing. Where are its priorities? Plus, all the fine does is give Beats free publicity. Hell, I bet the company is paying the fine. It’s money well-spent. The NFL is becoming a joke.

All of this transpired as word came that the great racehorse Cigar died at age 24.  Beyond being a steady performer, Cigar was a people animal. As Joe Drape notes in his fond New York Times tribute:

After Cigar completed his perfect season in the 1995 Breeders’ Cup, (jockey Jerry) Bailey took his son Justin, then 3, to check on the horse in Mott’s barn. Bailey had the boy in his arms when Cigar suddenly stopped grazing, stepped over and put his nose to Justin’s chest and chin.’

“’He was just nuzzling on him,’ Bailey said. ‘Less than 24 hours earlier he was on fire, just a machine, and now he was like a pony in the parking lot of the Kmart. He really liked people.’’

Would that some people had the instincts for others that some animals had.