As part of a lengthy and detailed item from Mike Silver of Yahoo! Sports assessing various lingering issues regarding the power of Commissioner Roger Goodell, Silver reports that the issue of whether players will be punished for personal conduct policy violations occurring during the lockout was resolved via a compromise.
Per Silver, roughly two dozen players who got in trouble during the lockout won’t be punished. Eight players regarded by Commissioner Roger Goodell as repeat offenders will be punished.
If those eight players (including Titans receiver Kenny Britt and Bucs cornerback Aqib Talib, both of whom met with Goodell this week) are indeed fined and/or suspended, I’ve got some free legal advice for them: Sue everyone.
It’s the height of hypocrisy for the league to inflict significant damage on the shield via a lockout, and then to discipline players who potentially tarnish the shield during the lockout. And it’s simply wrong to expect players to behave themselves while away from work when they’re constantly away from work because they’re being prevented from working.
The union should be joined to any lawsuit as well. Regardless of the legal theories asserted, the notion that the union would throw these guys under the bus for things that happened when the union wasn’t even a union is unfair, and courts that are confronted with such inherent unfairness will try to find a remedy.
So why was the union willing to give up those eight players? Our guess is that Goodell persuaded NFLPA executive director De Smith not to worry about the small handful of bad apples, given that their behavior threatens the golden goose. With the players now treated as true partners, having at least 47 cents of every dollar generated flow into their pockets, anything that harms the league’s image potentially impacts revenue, which in turn reduces the players’ collective take. And so, to the extent that Goodell ultimately is protecting the brand, Smith has decided that he won’t let the interests of the few undermine the interests of the many.
That’s fine. As long as guys aren’t getting screwed. Britt, Talib, and the other six repeat offenders are getting screwed. And that does more damage to the brand than anything those guys have done individually.