Steelers safety and NFLPA representative Ryan Clark sounded an unexpected alarm on Wednesday regarding the completion of the new CBA. Clark said that the deal may not be done in time for players who signed new or restructured contracts to practice on Thursday.
Clark blamed the delay on Commissioner Roger Goodell’s stance on player discipline.
Still, a subsequent Associated Press report paints a slightly more optimistic picture. Per Barry Wilner of the Associated Press, Giants long snapper Zak DeOssie said it’s “looking very optimistic” that the deal will be done on time.
Clark echoed his Debbie Downer disposition to Wilner: “De Smith is still working, and we’re trying to get this figured out. But it’s not an absolute that guys will be at practice tomorrow.”
While HGH testing remains a point of contention, Goodell’s authority when it comes to fines and suspensions apparenty has taken center stage. “[W]ith Roger Goodell having total control over the fine process, that’s a deal-breaker for us in this situation,” Clark said. “We feel like someone else should be on there; there should be some . . . type of way — actually someone who’s not on the NFL payroll. A big issue, for us, especially, as a team, is Roger Goodell . . . being judge, jury and appeals system.”
While Clark has a point when it comes to penalties imposed under the substance-abuse policy, the steroids policy, and the personal conduct policy, the Commissioner currently doesn’t have final say when it comes to discipline for illegal hits and other on-field conduct. In reality, Art Shell and Ted Cottrell make the final call on these matters, and the two former coaches were jointly selected by and are collectively compensated by the NFL and the NFLPA.
Unfortunately, this paragraph from Wilner will perpetuate the misconception: “Pittsburgh has been one of the most fined teams in the league, particularly star linebacker James Harrison. The Steelers have been vocal about what they perceive as unfair treatment by the NFL.”
Another potential sticking point comes from the stated intention of the NFL to hold players responsible for off-field misconduct during the lockout, a position that we continue to regard as ludicrous.
Either way, De Smith expressed optimism last week on PFT Live that the deal will get done. And since many of you have made it clear that you don’t want to hear about CBA matters now that football is back, we’ll stop her and get back to football.