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CBA not completely clear on preseason suspensions and fine

Because we pointed out earlier today that the Denver Broncos can’t send receiver Brandon Marshall home with pay, we already had the CBA open to the page containing the rules regarding suspensions for conduct detrimental to the team.

Here’s the key text, from the labor contract:  “Conduct detrimental to Club — maximum fine of an amount equal to one week’s salary and/or suspension without pay for a period not to exceed four (4) weeks.”

So what does this mean when a suspension is applied on August 28, two weeks before the start of the regular season?

In the end, it could be an issue for an arbitrator to resolve.  (Or, possibly, the “Special Master,” who apparently wasn’t content with being called only a “Master.”)

As we interpret the language (and I’m neither an arbitrator nor a Master, special or otherwise), the Broncos had the option of fining Marshall up to four weeks’ salary or suspend him for up to four weeks, or both.

At a minimum, the Broncos have chosen to suspend Marshall for an undetermined period of time.  If they opt for the maximum, Marshall could be suspended until September 25, which would cause him to miss two regular-season games and most of the preparation for Week Three.

At some point, they’ll need to designate a duration.  Though the CBA isn’t clear on the deadline in this regard, the notion that a team could suspend a player and tell him “we’ll let you know when we want you back, but it’ll be at some point in the next four weeks” doesn’t seem fair, and that visceral sense of fair often comes into play when there’s room for interpretation in the rules that have been established.

The bigger question is whether and to what extent the Broncos will fine Marshall.  In the preseason, when players aren’t receiving game checks, what is a week’s salary?  Is it a regular-season game check, or is it a week’s worth of per diems?

At some point, the Broncos will make their position on these issues known.  Then, Marshall and the NFLPA will have to decide whether to fight the issue.  (An interesting subplot in this regard will be whether the union will hire Jeffrey Kessler to handle the case; if he isn’t, it would strengthen the perception that the new regime is phasing him out.)

In the end, we might have another T.O.-Eagles showdown.

And, in this case, there could be multiple rounds.  The CBA allows the teams to impose multiple suspensions of up to four weeks.  So, if Marshall doesn’t change his ways, he might be suspended again and again.

For now, though, it doesn’t look good for Marshall.  As one league source pointed out after viewing the video of Marshall’s recent practice antics, “He’s not gonna have a leg to stand on” if he appeals the suspension.

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14 Responses to “CBA not completely clear on preseason suspensions and fine”
  1. Tr3pidation says: Aug 28, 2009 12:37 PM

    How does one become a special master? I wanna be a special master :(

  2. Bob Sacamano says: Aug 28, 2009 12:45 PM

    A year ago the Panthers announced in early August that they were suspending Steve Smith for the first 2 regular season games.
    As it is, Marshall has hardly practiced with Denver and hasn’t played a preseason game. If the Broncos wanted to be tough, they can keep letting him do just that and announce he’s suspended for X number of games when the season starts, just as the Panthers did with Smith. That would allow them to give Marshall the maximum 4 games.
    But Adam Schefter is saying the suspension is just for the PRESEASON, so I guess the Broncos don’t actually want to be tough.

  3. Derrick says: Aug 28, 2009 12:49 PM

    This is where I think the Commisioner should step in an impose a league suspension if the player continues with his antics. If after a team suspends a player for conduct detrimental to the team for four weeks, the commish should impose a suspension and fine for conduct detrimental to the league after that.

  4. JimmySmith says: Aug 28, 2009 12:54 PM

    Too bad he doesn’t play for the Vikings, he could take it to state court and the friendly confines of a season ticket holding judge and get relief from the CBA regulations.

  5. Dewey Axewound says: Aug 28, 2009 1:02 PM

    I hope he stands on the Bears’ sideline during Sunday night’s game and then makes faces at Joshy McDanhole all night.

  6. ero52 says: Aug 28, 2009 1:04 PM

    Suspend and fine Asante Samuel for that helmet to helmet on Nate Hughes last nught.

  7. stadter says: Aug 28, 2009 1:10 PM

    From the quote you have, it sounds like he can be fined 1 week paycheck or suspended up to 4. Doesn’t sound like he could be fined for 4 (unless the clause is invoked 4 times in a row).

  8. Colinito says: Aug 28, 2009 1:17 PM

    Florio is not a special master but he is a skilled master debater

  9. Cap says: Aug 28, 2009 1:23 PM

    @stadter
    I think your interpretation is correct… The fine is a separate dollar amount unrelated to lost pay for a suspension. Thus a max fine of one week’s pay, plus losing a max of an additional four week’s pay because of a suspension — which results in a maximum total loss of 5 week’s pay.

  10. milehiclown says: Aug 28, 2009 1:23 PM

    Compounding his problems (“it doesn’t look good for Marshall”) is your earlier speculation about his financial concerns.
    Is he really bankrupt?
    If so, his situation has gone from absurdly to catastrophic.
    He deserves it.

  11. Bigbluefan says: Aug 28, 2009 1:42 PM

    How about them Broncos

  12. Hype says: Aug 28, 2009 1:56 PM

    # JimmySmith says: August 28, 2009 12:54 PM
    Too bad he doesn’t play for the Vikings, he could take it to state court and the friendly confines of a season ticket holding judge and get relief from the CBA regulations.
    Wow..thats reaching…even for you.

  13. RagnartheViking says: Aug 28, 2009 3:01 PM

    @Hype
    Every post Jimmy puts out is a reach
    Don’t worry, middle school starts up next week and he won’t be posting as much.
    Then there is Dirty Sanchez Axewound.
    Enlightening us with his inane homosexual diatribe 1 post at a time.
    Dewey, your “life partner” has a Hot Carl in the oven for you.

  14. Jason says: Aug 28, 2009 4:05 PM

    I think “Salary” is defined early in the CBA as what is used in calculating regular season salary, so the fines should be based on regular season games. The way I read that paragraph is that the Broncos can fine him 1 week of regular season salary and then do not have to pay him for the next four weeks if he remains suspended. That would be 2 weeks of no preseason pay and then 2 weeks of no game checks.

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