Demaryius Thomas was traded from the DynaForOne Firebirds to the Tamworth Two on deadline day for Willie Snead, a 2016 1st, a 2017 2nd and a conditional 2018 3rd. The trade was processed at 7:54pm. The deadline is 8pm. The commissioner was otherwise indisposed at this time.
Iit was noted in the main NFL huddle that, according to the rules, picks may not be traded more than 2 drafts in advance. The commissioner, upon being notified of the issue at 10pm, stated to the two teams involved that he was happy for the final detail to be worked out and the trade to stand.
Formal complaints have been raised by two GMs who consider that the trade should not stand as an agreed legal deal was not in place by the deadline. Other GMs have a more ‘shades of grey’ opinion. Given the formal complaints raised, the Commissioner agreed to review the situation.
I came to a decision on my ruling yesterday and wrote up a formal response. Much more formal than this. I wanted to sit on it and weigh up whether I was making the correct decision or not before I posted it though. Upon reviewing what I had written, I felt I couldn’t stick with it and changed my mind. My words here might not be as thought through as in that original decision, and they come from a slightly different place. Please bear with me. I hope I can explain myself and the ruling adequately.
In reviewing this case I have to concede that the complainants are correct. The trade is not valid according to the rules on the website. The trade was not 100% completed by 8pm on the deadline day as the final, smallest element of the package was technically illegal. That said, the rules for trades are out of date. They allude to commissioner review of all trades before they are put through – a function which was removed after the first season. The rules suggest that all trades are signed off on the forums, and insist that all trades with conditional picks are signed off in this manner by both teams. In the past, teams have not been held to these standards. In addition, in the course of this discussion we all agreed that the rule for preventing picks from being traded more than 2 drafts away was a bad rule and should be removed.
I don’t think any league member would deny that the published rules on the website are out of date. They do not reflect rule changes agreed by the league and they are certainly not strictly followed. They rules were written prior to the league starting and have, on numerous occasions, been found wanting. I take responsibility for this, but I think we can all acknowledge that to get the rules spot on the first time, with no experience of dynasty, let alone salary cap dynasty, was nigh on impossible.
At no point during the League’s existence have we viewed the rules as black and white due to their inadequacies and our ongoing development of understanding of how our league works and how the rules relate to it. There have been countless times when rules have been bent because it was common sense. Nonetheless, I have to come back to the fact that the complainants are correct, allowing the trade is technically a breach of the rules.
However, there are other issues at stake here that need to be factored into the decision. As has been pointed out in the hangouts, where does the leniency end? Somebody stop the leniency! The League has been very lenient over myriad issues, and thus far I am positive everyone has benefitted at some point. And being lenient in this or other cases doesn’t mean people can get away with anything. That’s getting a little too close to a “if you allow gay marriage then that means beastiality is OK” kind of nonsense. I think we can all apply a degree of common sense and agree that one example of leniency doesn’t mean anything goes.
What is the alternative? When I initially wrote up my decision I decided to revoke the trade because, by the letter of the law, it was in breach. My decision went into the consequences of this and I did not like what I saw. The League becoming a police state. Every rule having to be adhered to precisely and my role of Commissioner having to come down hard on all minor breaches. Of course, this is as ridiculous as the anarchy vision of the future presented by leniency. And yet, it allowed for any minor breach to be pointed out and argued over and require a ruling. This process genuinely makes me miserable. I have not enjoyed having to make a decision on this or any other matter. I have not enjoyed the discussion. And I completely acknowledge that in that past I have been a ring leader in this kind of stuff. After a previous ‘discussion’ I looked into the mirror, I looked over the precipice, I didn’t like what I saw. If that leaves me inadequate to run a fantasy dynasty league, then so be it.
So what this ultimately came down to to me is what do I want this league to be? I have said previously that I believe my role as commissioner is to sit back and interfere as little as possible. I should just make sure the league runs by the rules. Theoretically this means that I should revoke the trade. However, my view has changed a little recently. This is a complex league and will need a guiding hand and it is the commissioner’s role to be that guiding hand. By my hand, I shape the league. The league is, in some respects, a reflection of me, or what I want to see in the world.
So how do I see the world? I don’t agree with every rule that’s out there, and I want people to see and evaluate all the circumstances that surround events and apply common sense. And I want people to generally be cheerful and have fun. I want our league to be fun, and if our league stops being fun, then I’m out. There are times when that point comes close. Some of those points I have entirely been at fault for. Probably more often than any other league member. Sometimes I get worked up about issues merely because I care about the league and want it to work. I want it to be perfect. But it can’t be perfect, nothing can. But it can be fun.
So I want to apply common sense to the league in matters of dispute. I want to take a step back and evaluate what is sensible, not what is “legal”. I want everyone to obey the spirit of the law, not the letter of the law. So, if we’re applying common sense here, what is the common sense ruling?
Let’s say the trade gets processed at 6:54, not 7:54. The issue is flagged and Neil and James resolve it, amending the terms of the deal by 7:45. Here is my question for you – what is different from this happening slightly after the 8pm deadline? Literally what is different in the league? Nothing.
Does that mean I should be allowed to do a trade now? No – the deadline was on Thursday.
But the deadline was 8pm and this was sorted out just after 8pm… Well, the deal went through before 8pm and they two teams made an honest mistake.
But a mistake nonetheless – one that means the trade isn’t valid… Was there an effort made to cheat the league? Was there ill intent in this deal? Aren’t all of us friends trying to have some fun before the sweet release of death?
Come on! OK – you want to go with the rules… for a trade to be reviewed by the commissioner, at least 3 league members need to protest the trade and only 2 have made formal protests, so none of this post exists and the trade can go through with the original terms (including the 2018 conditional pick).
Look – I get where the complaints come from, but nothing was done maliciously and the difference between them doing things correctly in time and making a minor corrective arrangement outside of the time limit is literally nothing. The results on the website are the same, the line-ups are the same, it changes nothing.
The common sense ruling is the one I made initially – the trade goes through and the amended conditional term is:
If DT finishes in the top 10 in 2016 across 16 weeks TT will give their 2017 3rd and 6th round picks and DFO will give their 5th.
If DT finishes outside the top 25 in 2016 DFO will give their 2017 6th
If DT finishes between 11 and 25 no further picks will change hands.