Bucs kicker Matt Bryant’s infant son died this week, and it’s unclear whether Bryant will play on Sunday when Tampa Bay hosts the Packers.
If he doesn’t play, the Bucs won’t receive a roster exemption, according to Chris Harry of the Orlando Sentinel.
And so, if Bryant doesn’t play, the Bucs will have to acquire another kicker, cut a player already on the team, and deactivate Bryant for the Green Bay game.
In our view, the league’s position on this indirectly puts unfair pressure on Bryant to play, since he’ll understandably feel guilty if he gets a game check for not working while one of his teammates gets canned.
As Harry points out, teams get roster exemptions for players who are suspended.  The same approach should apply when a player has undergone a personal tragedy like a death in his immediate family.


  1. “As Harry points out, teams get roster exemptions for players who are suspended. The same approach should apply when a player has undergone a personal tragedy like a death in his immediate family.”
    Exactly. C’mon NFL, do the right thing.

  2. Its a shame the league doesn’t take care of things like this. Hopefully they can figure something out for Matt.

  3. Gruden should suspend* him with pay for missing practice to get the roster spot. Since the NFL isn’t stepping up and doing the right thing to grant the Bucs a roster space, then the team should do what it needs to in the best interest of it’s players and team.

  4. That’s just ridiculous that they can’t get a roster exemption for him. I do remember that Favre guy playing against the Raiders on Monday night after his dad passed, but losing your little infant is a completely different story.

  5. Isnt there a law about issuing time for Bereavement Leave?
    Also, why should teams get roster exemptions for suspended players?

  6. This is easy… say he missed a team workout, and suspend him for a game…. get the roster exemption, and go about business.

  7. Amen, Florio. Bryant should be able to come back on his own time and he should not have to face any additional pressure to play than he probably has gotten. People need to be respectful of someone in his situation who has lost a loved one and this is the perfect circumstance to make an exception to whatever rule is in place.

  8. The NFL gives exemptions for players who are suspended. The Bucs should “suspend” Bryant for failing to attend practice. Maybe then the league would realize how backwards this rule is.

  9. Even in the cut throat world of normal businesses they allow for Bereavement time off. The owners are so afraid of loosing even a dime.

  10. That’s horrible on the NFL’s part. They should get an exemption for him without having to suspend him to workaround it or to cut a player just to get a kicker for one game. As active as Goodell has been I’m surprised he hasn’t done anything in regards to this or that the NFLPA hasn’t said anything.

  11. This is disgusting — so if a player gets a DUI the team is granted a roster space but if the player’s 3 month old infant dies he and the team are to “suck it up.” I know Mr. Gooddell or people in his office check this site, so do the right thing sir, this policy is completely draconian and an utter embarrassment to the league.

  12. To not allow Bryant time to grieve with his family (I believe he has 5 other children and a wife who need him right now) is unjust. For the NFL to pressure Bryant into playing or cut one of his teammates shows that all they care about is marketability, production and money. They want the best players playing the game so that it is more marketable in order for there to be the greatest interest in the game so it is more profitable. Even if they want to do the right thing, they are being prevented from doing so because of the ramifications of allowing players who could be gamechangers and could make the highlight reel, which makes the NFL more marketable. This is completely selfish and unjust on the NFL’s part. They are treating players as objects whom they can manipulate for profit. As we say in Philly, BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. The NFLPA is wasting it’s resources arguing against Plaxico’s suspension, when it should be fighting for players like Bryant that really need some help.
    Nothing new here, I suppose. The NFLPA has its priorities out of whack again.

  14. The problem is where to draw the line. An exemption could get abused by teams trying to stash fringe players or guys that are a little hurt but not injured enough to warrant a trip to the IR. For example, an exemption for the loss of a child, spouse, or parent is obvious. But what about someone’s great aunt, who was allegedly close to a person. A best friend? A beloved pet?

  15. I think it’s really lame that if a guy gets busted for marijuana possession or punching his teammate in the face weeks or months before the first game, the team gets a roster exemption, but a guys’ 3 month old son dies three days before a game and the player either has to play when he isn’t mentally ready or force one of his teammates to stop collecting a paycheck for his own family.

  16. There is no law for bereavement leave. It is not a right. Even if a law existed that allowed him to take time off, it does not require the NFL to allow an additional roster space for this purpose.
    That being said, a preferred employer will do things that are not legally required, because they are the right thing to do.
    Although this is hopefully not an issue that the league has to deal with on a frequent basis, there are times where exceptions need to be made.

  17. The NFLPA had an opportunity to collectively bargain a bereavement clause, but did not.
    Exceptions create precedent, and without a true polity bargained with the Union, all that people are accomplishing is wearing emotions on their sleeves.
    Do we need another mechanism for the Pats to “legally” cheat and hide players for a week or two?

  18. Ok, this is going to sound really bad, but I’m just playing devil’s advocate here. Someone mentioned that MLB has a bereavement list or something, but in baseball there are 5-6 games in a week during the season.
    Football is one game a week for seventeen weeks. If the player is allowed to miss practice for the week, that is actually more time than 3-7 days in the baseball season.
    So, while I agree any player should be given time in the death of child, I could many other players using a bereavement list to miss out on time for deaths of goldfish, grandmas, and third cousins.
    This opens the debate over what person’s death is more important than another. This is a very slippery slope.
    While I completely understand if Bryant doesn’t play, I can see where the NFL is coming from if they don’t allow and exemption.

  19. this issue should not even come up for discussion,a
    life is lost and all some people care about is wheather
    it affects if the team win or loses.

  20. It is possible to create a bereavement exemption and still not have people taking off for great-grandma’s death. You simply draw the line at immediate family members. A term already well-defined in the law.
    Besides, it makes no sense that a suspended player who does something wrong earns the team a roster exemption but someone who did nothing wrong cost the team. If Goodell really wants teams to take responsibility for their screw up players he will get rid of the suspended player exemption and create a bereavement one.

  21. The goldfish, third cousin, godmother arguments are retarded — just make a bereavement exemption when there is a death in the IMMEDIATE family — then there’s no room for debate. We’re talking about a 3 month old here folks, how about some effing common sense instead of legalese parsing.

  22. Proof that the NFL has detached itself from reality. Yes, there must be rules, but damn it, these are men out there playing a game and living their lives. And sometimes, life intervenes. You don’t need to wreck a team just to prove that you are in charge. There are 31 other teams out there who would not bat a lash if the league hands out an exemption to Bryant and any other player dealing with a personal tragedy in their life.
    The NFL is becoming too much of a machine and is losing touch with the human element. You are now offically “corporate”.

  23. Saying this as a Packers fan, I wish there was some way the Pack could let Crosby kick for the both teams or something. I can’t believe there isn’t a roster exemption for this sort of thing.

  24. Shocking news.
    The NFL is on the wrong side of a moral issue in the name of money!!!!!
    what else is new under the sun?

  25. I’m pretty sure the NFL will do the right thing, step in and grant an exception. But, it is Friday already and they’d need to get a move on. That said, you can sign a kicker on Sunday morning…he’d just need time to get into where they’re playing.

  26. Let’s do this the simple way:
    Q: Would anybody object if Goodell issued an executive decision allowing an exception to the rule in this case?
    A: No.
    So it shouldn’t even be a debate. Goodell has used such powers before in changing the locale of a game or manipulating TV coverages so fans could get around blackout rules. Get it done.

  27. I know rules are rules, but situations like this certainly justify breaking the rules. Goodell should ask the other 31 teams if they are OK w/ an exemption, and then grant it.
    I’m a huge Packer fan, but even I wouldn’t mind seeing Bryant nail a long FG to win the game for Tampa, if he decides to play.

  28. Perfectly said, what a bunch of assholes in New York, Have a heart Goodell & company. Didn’t the Vikings fine a player last year who missed a game due to his grandmother dying? Show some compassion & treat people as you would want to be treated.

  29. Crosby kick for both teams? That is absolutely, without a doubt the worst idea I have ever heard in my entire life. I cannot even put into words how stupid that is, in addition to being impossible on so many levels.

  30. So a reporter poses a question to Greg Aiello Senior VP Public Relations and he answers the question as it pertains to NFL policy. Did the Bucs actually ask the NFL for a exemption, or have they decided to work around this themselves by suspending him with pay until he can return? Harry should have consulted the Bucs before he started throwing what if’s out there and condemning the NFL.

  31. ChrisJNelson… I think you’ve missed the point of the comment. It was about expressing sympathy by extending his favorite team’s kicker to the opposition to allow Bryant to grieve. It’s much akin to the British sharing a Christmas dinner with the Germans in WWI. Rules, schmules, it’s about displaying the willingness to go outside the box to make things “right.”

  32. I feel bad for Bryant and his family and all, but this is how it’s been for a long, long time. So he misses a game, big deal… even if his team loses because of it, big deal. Pay the man while he’s out, let him take care of business and do the best you can while he’s gone, like virtually every other business in the US.

  33. Let me tell you what I think about the Buc Family and that is from the Glazer Family, Bruce Allen, Jon Gruden, his coordinators the entire team and anyone I missed in the Buc organization. The Buc Family will ensure in their quiet way that the Bryant Family is quietly paid ten fold for their loss. By this I mean
    financially, by prayer and any other way they see fit. The Buc Organization is Top Drawer in this regards. I am not saying they can be paid for the loss of their son, but I am saying rhw Bryants will get the game check one way or another on top of the prayers and everything else.

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