Earlier today, we linked to Michael Silver’s story regarding the decision of the Browns to impose a $1,701 fine on a player who failed to pay for a $3 bottle of water at the team hotel.
To the extent that some might think this is a common practice, it isn’t. We’ve spoken with a source familiar with the practices of multiple NFL teams, and the source is aware of no other team that would fine a player for not settling up on the hotel incidentals.
The source explained that most if not all other NFL teams simply deduct the money from the player’s check.
The source also pointed out that the Browns likely will face a formal grievance, given that the Collective Bargaining Agreement does not specifically authorize the imposition of a fine for such behavior.
Article VIII, Section 1 of the CBA lists several types of conduct for which players may be fined, including the maximum amounts. And not even Johnnie Cochran could make a compelling case that any of the listed offenses includes failing to pay for food and beverage consumed in a hotel room.
(Some of you have asked about the bizarrely specific amount of the fine. As best we can tell, the Browns imposed the maximum fine available under one of the categories that permit a fine of $1,500. The current CBA, which became effective in 2006, allows those amounts to be increased based upon the annual growth in total football revenues, with a maximum increase of ten percent per year.)
So if (when) a grievance is filed, the NFL Management Council will be forced to conjure strategy for supporting the Browns’ decision.
In the end, they might have to rely on the Chewbacca defense.