- Ed Werder, ESPN NFL Insider
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In his first comments since NFL commissioner Roger Goodell punished coach Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots for cheating without banning him from coaching in games, Cowboys quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson said he intends to write a letter to the league office seeking an explanation for what he considers inconsistent enforcement of NFL policy.
Wilson also said he might attempt to determine whether he can appeal his five-game suspension.
"I would say there is definitely a double standard being applied here," Wilson said Friday when reached at his home near the team's practice facility. "I don't want to be seen as a crybaby or as someone questioning the commissioner's decision, but I see some major inconsistencies here.
"To me, they're holding the organization accountable instead of the person."
On Sept. 1, the NFL suspended Wilson for five games and fined him $100,000 -- nearly a third of his salary. Wilson, who has suffered from diabetes for 24 years, admitted he purchased medication -- believed to be human growth hormone -- that is banned under the league's substance abuse policy (at the time he said he did not know the rule applied to coaches as well as players). Wilson did so while working as an assistant coach for the Chicago Bears and turned over phone records and credit card receipts in a seemingly successful attempt to convince the league he was taking them for his own personal benefit and not distributing them to players.
"They were concerned about distributing, and I was cleared of that or I was told I would have been banned from the NFL for life," Wilson said. "I don't want to bash the commissioner, but I definitely think there are some inconsistencies here. Intent was a big issue in my defense. What their [Patriots] intent was, I don't know. But I was just taking my punishment, and I guess what the commissioner does with Belichick is his business, but I think there are some inconsistencies here."
Belichick avoided suspension but was fined $500,000. The Patriots were fined $250,000 and will be required to forfeit at least one first-day draft choice for illegally videotaping the New York Jets' defensive signals during last Sunday's opener at the Meadowlands. The fine, the largest ever opposed on a NFL coach, represents 12 percent of Belichick's scheduled 2007 salary, which is believed to be $4.2 million.
"I did something wrong, but I did it only to benefit myself, not to gain a competitive advantage," Wilson said. "I accepted my punishment and moved on, but this is kind of a different deal. The percentage of my salary that I was fined is substantially more than the percentage he was fined as far as I can tell. I mean, $500,000 is nothing to laugh at -- but neither is $100,000. The punishment is definitely not the same in my opinion.
"I'm contemplating whether to write a letter because I accepted the punishment for my violation, didn't appeal and went about my business. All I'm asking for is an explanation, and I know exactly what the commissioner is going to say because I've read his comments, but it might make me feel better."
Wilson later said he might explore whether the window in which he had to appeal his punishment might still be open. He's hoping to use Belichick's punishment to make the point that he believes the sanctions he suffered were unfair in comparison.
"I don't know if I have the ability to do that as long as I'm suspended or whether it's too late," he said. "But it might be something worth checking into now."
Ed Werder covers the NFL for ESPN.
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