The NFL has allowed former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor into the draft. In so doing, the league suspended Pryor five games for making “decisions that undermine the integrity of the eligibility rules for the NFL Draft.”
So where does the authority to suspend Pryor come from? According to NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, it comes from Article 8.6 of the NFL Constitution and By-Laws: “The Commissioner is authorized . . . to take appropriate steps as he deems necessary and proper in the best interests of the league . . . whenever any party or organization not a member of, employed by, or connected with the league or any member thereof is guilty of any conduct detrimental either to the league, its member clubs or employees, or to professional football.”
That’s a blank check to basically do whatever Goodell wants to do in any given situation, with no procedure for appeal or review.
The NFLPA could have resisted. The new Collective Bargaining Agreement, as far as I can tell based on a scan of the Table of Contents and portions of the 301-page document, contains no rules regarding the ability of the league to impose suspensions upon players based on the manner in which they attempt to secure eligibility for the supplemental draft. Apart from a perfunctory “Management Rights” clause, which purports to let the league do whatever it wants absent language to the contrary in the CBA, there’s no authority that would allow the league to do what it did.
Though Pryor isn’t complaining, it sets a dangerous precedent. Then again, when the Commissioner has the ability to do whatever he wants to do in any given situation, precedent no longer matters.