NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is taking the power granted to him under article 46 of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and shoving it down the players’ throats.
Goodell ruined the career of Saints DT Anthony Hargrove because the NFL failed to admit that they were wrong during BountyGate. Patriots QB Tom Brady will serve a four-game suspension this season because Goodell had to save face with the owners after spending millions on a tainted investigation.
Now Goodell is trying to suspend the players named in the Al Jazeera America documentary on steroid use for an indefinite period of time.
"For those players whose interviews do not take place on or before [Aug. 25], or who fail meaningfully to participate in or otherwise obstruct the interview, their actions will constitute conduct detrimental and they will be suspended, separate and apart from any possible future determination that they violated the steroid policy," NFL vice president of labor policy and league affairs Adolpho Birch wrote. "The suspension for each such player will begin on Friday, August 26 and will continue until he has fully participated in an interview with league investigators, after which the Commissioner will determine whether and when the suspension should be lifted."
Patriots fans should recognize the intentional word choice of “conduct detrimental” and realize that this penalty is two-fold. These players are going to be suspended for not speaking with the league in addition to whatever future suspension comes with the steroid policy.
Goodell has unilateral ability to determine whether or not a player has performed “conduct detrimental” to the league and can suspend the player as he wishes, with few exceptions (ie: there is already a penalty structure in place that aligns perfectly with what the player is alleged to have done).
Fans that threw confetti in the air when the courts ruled in Goodell’s favor over Brady should realize that this means that Goodell is going to impose his power on every player that steps out of line. If the four players in the Al Jazeera America report- Packers defenders Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews III, Steelers defender James Harrison, and free agent defender Mike Neal- don’t speak with the NFL investigation, they will never play another down of football.
Retired quarterback Peyton Manning was the fifth NFL player listed in the report and he complied with the league “investigation” because he wants to have a future role in an NFL front office. I don’t think a single person on the planet believes the investigation into Manning was given the same resources and attention as the one into Brady. It certainly didn’t have as many leaks from the NFL office.
This isn’t to say that these players didn’t do anything wrong. I wouldn’t be shocked if all five were a part of the drug delivery scheme that was laid out in the documentary, but has since been recanted. But the obvious animosity between the NFL and the NFLPA due to the past behavior and poor track record of Goodell and the league office feeds the desire of the players to fight back.
In reality, Goodell’s move here has nothing to do with performing enhancing drugs (PEDs), or upholding the “integrity of the league.” It’s about the NFL league office flexing the muscles granted to it under the CBA and the United States legal system. Goodell wants the NFL Players Association to bend to his every whim.
I can’t wait for the next lockout when the CBA ends in 2021.