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NFLPA agreed to allow punishment of eight players for lockout misconduct

Cedric Benson AP

From March 11 through late July, the NFL locked out its player-employees.  From time to time during the lockout, the league vowed to hold locked-out players responsible for off-duty misconduct during a lengthy stretch in which they were continuously off-duty, because the NFL wouldn’t allow them to be on-duty.

As Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports reported several weeks ago, the NFL eventually agreed not to take action against players who found themselves in hot water while getting the cold shoulder from the league.  But the NFLPA, as Silver reported, curiously agreed that eight men regarded as repeat offenders could be disciplined.

When Commissioner Roger Goodell opted not to suspend Bucs cornerback Aqib Talib or Titans receiver Kenny Britt, some questioned the accuracy of Silver’s report.  In the wake of the news that Bengals running back Cedric Benson will be suspended three games, subject to appeal, for allegedly assaulting his former roommate and agreeing to a diversion program that will wipe the slate clean if he stays out of trouble for a year, Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports has obtained the names of the eight players whom the NFLPA agreed could be suspended.

We’ve since obtained a copy of the August 4, 2011 letter agreement, from NFL general counsel Jeff Pash to NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith.  The letter bears the signature of both men.

The eight players identified in the letter are:  Talib, Britt, Benson, Albert Haynesworth, Clark Haggans, Johnny Jolly, Pacman Jones, and Brandon Underwood.

For the other players, the NFLPA agreed that arrests occurring during the lockout may be used in the future, for determining whether a player is a repeat offender, and thus subject to enhanced penalties under the personal conduct policy.  Also, the NFLPA agreed that the players who got into trouble during the lockout could be placed into the substance abuse program based on the specific nature of the alleged violations.  Under the August 4 letter, the relevant period extends from March 11 through August 3.

Benson will appeal his three-game suspension on Tuesday.  The centerpiece of his argument should be that the league had no power to discipline him for actions occurring while he was locked out, and that the NFLPA had no ability to exempt him from the league’s general position that players won’t be punished for arrests occurring during the lockout.  If that fails, Benson should seriously consider filing legal action against the NFLPA for breach of the duty of fair representation — especially since the reconstituted union has compromised Benson’s rights based on events occurring at a time when the union wasn’t a union.

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31 Responses to “NFLPA agreed to allow punishment of eight players for lockout misconduct”
  1. lwbjag says: Sep 24, 2011 4:28 PM

    Why only the players?
    “It takes two to Tango” …

  2. scudbot says: Sep 24, 2011 4:29 PM

    Well, fine. Suspend Jolly. There’s not a snowball’s chance in hell the Packers would take him back anyway unless Ted Thomas leaves and is replaced by Howie Roseman or Rick Spielman.

  3. asyd1827 says: Sep 24, 2011 4:32 PM

    If I were one of those guys, I wouldn’t be too happy

  4. egls7 says: Sep 24, 2011 4:32 PM

    Cool story, bro

  5. tonymandrich says: Sep 24, 2011 4:43 PM

    Johnny Jolly such an idiot. What a waste of talent…

  6. jpmelon says: Sep 24, 2011 4:46 PM

    I’d like to see the NFL and the NFLPA get fined by Bensons lawyers.

  7. eigglesnosuperbowls says: Sep 24, 2011 4:50 PM

    Mick Vick of the no super bowls dream team did not get as much of a cold shoulder from the league as these guys are getting

  8. ogre2010 says: Sep 24, 2011 4:55 PM

    This whole situation is a joke!!

  9. herlies says: Sep 24, 2011 5:05 PM

    “Well, fine. Suspend Jolly. There’s not a snowball’s chance in hell the Packers would take him back anyway unless Ted Thomas leaves and is replaced by Howie Roseman or Rick Spielman.”

    Aren’t you supposed to be a Packer fan? If so, you should know that your GM’s name is Ted THOMPSON.

  10. bucngator says: Sep 24, 2011 5:13 PM

    Sounds like you’re “chomping at the bit” to dust off the law degree…

    …why not represent him, to see if your argument will hold water?

  11. mistrezzrachael says: Sep 24, 2011 5:13 PM

    How can NFLPA agree to something when they didn’t exist @ the time of these infractions????

    Not 1 of those players was a part of an NFL team @ the time of their arrests….so the league has no grounds.

  12. barklikeadog says: Sep 24, 2011 5:20 PM

    Why does it seem these idiot Bungle players are always at the center of this off-field BS? What a disgrace to the state of Ohio – the birthplace of football! Paul Brown must be spinning in his grave. Mike Brown: sell the effing team to someone who wouldn’t stand for this spectacle your players are! Bring out the brown bags! Oh never mind, no one goes to your games anyway.

  13. nesuperfan says: Sep 24, 2011 5:23 PM

    @mistrezzrachael Agreed. I think the NFL and the NFLPA are walking a very precarious line, and have crossed it.

  14. troy10 says: Sep 24, 2011 5:23 PM

    “Why only the players?
    “It takes two to Tango” …”

    WTH does that mean?? The players are getting into trouble with the law… they’re getting arrested!! So.. how else it the league going to punish.. the arresting officer??!? How does the “it takes two to tango” apply here??

  15. tampajoey says: Sep 24, 2011 5:25 PM

    Anyone that’s been in a Union knows they’ll sell you out to benefit their own agenda. Even in a Union of millionaires.

  16. minnyjoe says: Sep 24, 2011 5:31 PM

    1/4of these Packers, what a shock!

  17. lwbjag says: Sep 24, 2011 5:36 PM

    troy10 says:
    Sep 24, 2011 5:23 PM
    “Why only the players?
    “It takes two to Tango” …”

    WTH does that mean?? The players are getting into trouble with the law… they’re getting arrested!! So.. how else it the league going to punish.. the arresting officer??!? How does the “it takes two to tango” apply here??

    My bad …
    I was intending to comment on player/team contac during the “lock-out”. Not about breaking laws; but, breaking rules.
    Sorry for ant confusion …

  18. simplesimon1 says: Sep 24, 2011 5:41 PM

    So does this mean the NFLPA gave Goodell the ability to suspend Talib and Britt and he declined and gave them a pass for now?

    Or is punishment still a possibility?

    I’m not fully understanding.

  19. rajbais says: Sep 24, 2011 6:00 PM

    NFLPA = Sellouts = Jerks!!!!

  20. ianwhetstone says: Sep 24, 2011 6:11 PM

    Clark Haggans?

  21. Deb says: Sep 24, 2011 6:17 PM

    Instead of deciding–rightly or wrongly–to sell out eight individual players, the NFLPA should have ensured a committee of players and owners would have a voice in deciding on all suspensions rather than making Goodell the lone judge, jury, and executioner.

  22. Deb says: Sep 24, 2011 6:22 PM

    @mistrezzrachael …

    For once I agree with you, but Haynesworth’s incident happened before the lockout, so he was a team member when that occurred. So I don’t understand why he’s even on this list. But it doesn’t matter because Goodell has already decided not to suspend him.

  23. thejuddstir says: Sep 24, 2011 6:47 PM

    25% are ex-Packers……not a big surprise I guess.

  24. finsfrontofficeisajoke says: Sep 24, 2011 7:06 PM

    This is another example of how laughable our legal system is, in collective bargaining and beyond. How can the league claim any kind of oversight on a bunch of unemployed players?

    The worst part is NOT the fact that the NFL wants to punish players that were locked out. The most shocking aspect is that the NFLPA, to whom the players pay dues (I’ve been a union employee before – imagine what the dues are in THAT union!), allowed the league to single out 8 players who are somehow “different” than the rest when the entire founding principle of a union is that “we are all equal”.

    De Smith and company should be sued, and the fact that the dues go to them (eventually) should lead to a criminal investigation as to what other shady dealings are going on in there. This case is a BLATANT breach of duty.

  25. elphantasmo says: Sep 24, 2011 7:56 PM

    Gotta love how the NFLPA figures it can unilaterally decide who is “more punishable” among its hundreds of players. How about Ben Roethlisberger? Are you telling me if he raped another girl during the lockout he wouldn’t be suspended?

  26. coreyandthejets says: Sep 24, 2011 8:55 PM

    Every day I check this website just waiting for the headline “Goodell Arrested for DUI”. Please, oh please, come soon!

  27. c0ldestwinter says: Sep 24, 2011 9:03 PM

    From March 11 to August 3, there was no union and no CBA outlining for Benson what was and was not permitted. Obviously he’s an idiot for getting arrested, but his arrest was in violation of nothing but the law. If my next employer has a policy of suspending anyone who gets arrested, could they suspend me a month into my contract for an arrest that took place when I was 20?

  28. charger383 says: Sep 24, 2011 9:57 PM

    I don’t think this is right. I don’t like seeing players acting like jerks and getting in trouble with the law, but they were locked out, laid off. whatever.
    If I worked at a factory and we went on strike and I got drunk and got in a fight and got arrested while we were on strike, when we go back how does management have any control over me when they were not paying me at the time. Whatever the court decided should be my only punishment.

  29. FinFan68 says: Sep 24, 2011 10:55 PM

    mistrezzrachael says:
    Sep 24, 2011 5:13 PM
    How can NFLPA agree to something when they didn’t exist @ the time of these infractions????

    Not 1 of those players was a part of an NFL team @ the time of their arrests….so the league has no grounds.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    I don’t think that’s entirely accurate. If a player was a UFA before the lockout, then I think you would be correct unless there is something that says the UFAs are still officially in the league unless they submit retirement paperwork.

    These players were still on their respective teams even though they were locked out (similar to mandatory furlough) but they were not part of the NFLPA (unless the decert sham argument is upheld by a court/NLRB at some point).

    I don’t understand how the union could recertify and then single out specific players like that. Aren’t they supposed to look out for their members as a whole? I can see if they chose not to represent the individuals if they filed a dispute, but I don’t think that’s what happened.

  30. granadosm says: Sep 24, 2011 11:55 PM

    who scudbut you are an embarrassment to all true football fans out there. You’re obviously a bandwagon fan that knows nothing about football so you mine as well just mind your own business. You will probably be a Patriot fan next week if you aren’t already.

  31. okiny says: Sep 25, 2011 12:25 AM

    why is everyone surprised that players are getting suspended while they were on strike? Terrell Pryor was suspended for his actions, and he had far less affiliation with the NFL than any of these guys. I’m just surprised Kurt Warner never had to sit for all the times he forgot to double bag at the grocery store.

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