Make no mistake about it: Washington Redskins general manager Bruce Allen was speaking to New York Giants owner John Mara as much as anybody at his Monday news conference when he declared the Redskins were the victims of NFL crime -- the salary cap penalty levied by the league.
Allen didn't mention his name, but he called Mara out when he said, "Contrary to some of the public comments that I've seen from the chairman of the NFL's CEC committee, according to commissioner [Roger] Goodell and all NFL lawyers, we did not violate any NFL rule -- in 2010 or 2011 -- or any regulation. Also contrary to the rumors and the off-the-record conversations that NFL people have had with various people in the media, the Redskins were never told or warned that the NFL and NFLPA would reach an agreement two years later to punish us."
In case you didn't know, Mara is the chairman of the NFL Management CEC -- the Council Executive Committee.
This raises the stakes of the front-office blood feud between the Redskins and the Giants. It was fueled publicly in March 2012, when the two-year, $36 million cap penalty was handed down hours before free agency and Mara said publicly, "I think [the Redskins] are lucky they didn't lose draft picks" and "I thought the penalties imposed were proper."
Mara clearly has Goodell's ear. But he likes to shoot his mouth off too much, and other public comments he made could come back to haunt him, his good buddy Goodell and his fellow NFL owners.
This is what he told the Newark Star-Ledger in July when he was asked about the thousands of players suing the league for damage from concussions.
"The notion in these lawsuits that we knew there were long-term effects and we withheld that information is ridiculous," Mara said. "Is there some kind of cause and effect? I don't know. I'll let the medical experts tell you that. Common sense would tell you that there is. But to say we knew it and withheld it, I really find that objectionable."
NFL lawyers may find it objectionable when Mara's comments are entered into court records if the hundreds of lawsuits filed by more than 4,000 former NFL players come to trial -- or perhaps Mara himself is called to testify.
This is the very essence of the lawsuits against the league -- not that football is dangerous or can result in brain damage, as is often claimed when critics ridicule the lawsuits. It is what did the NFL know about the long-term effects of head injuries, when did they know it and did they fail to reveal that information to players?
You have never heard Goodell making such definitive and inflammatory comments. He has been very measured and careful about his public comments about concussions.
If Mara's comments cost the NFL, the Redskins should be exempt from those costs.