One of the big issues from the weekend, which may have gotten lost in a great slate of games, arose from the deal between the NFL and the NFLPA regarding the manner in which players arrested and/or charged during the lockout would be disciplined, or not, by the league.
Of the 33 players who got into trouble off the field, the NFL and NFLPA agreed that 25 first-time offenders would not be disciplined, but that eight repeat offenders would be subject to fines or suspensions. The NFLPA has backpedaled, claiming that no specific agreement has been made regarding the eight repeat offenders.
But Bengals running back Cedric Benson, one of the eight repeat offenders, has been suspended three games. And he has filed a claim against the NFLPA, alleging that the union engaged in unfair labor practices by binding him to an agreement for conduct occurring at a time when there was no union.
As pointed out in the Tuesday one-liners, Bengals tackle Andrew Whitworth isn’t pleased with the situation. Whitworth, who serves as the Bengals’ NFLPA player representative, has two teammates (Benson and cornerback Pacman Jones) who are being potentially hurt by the agreement.
“It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me,” Whitworth said, per Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I feel like it’s the wrong decision and I also believe the union let those eight guys down. I don’t feel like that was fair. To me, if I was told that was a make or break, I would have said that’s a make or break deal that we were going to sell out eight guys to have an agreement.”
Whitworth said the didn’t know about the agreement until reports emerged last week.
“Now I don’t think that I’m saying them doing stuff is OK but if no one else can get punished they shouldn’t be able to either,” Whitworth said. “I feel like the eight guys is the problem to me. I don’t feel like they should be left out. The real problem I have with it is I don’t think they are any different from any other guy who got in trouble during the lockout.”
Whitworth’s position is significant because, as a member of the board of player representatives, Whitworth has a voice in the re-election — or possibly not — of NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, whose contract expires in March 2012. Peter King of Sports Illustrated and NBC reported during Sunday night’s Football Night in America that the NFLPA’s Executive Committee was hoping to arrange a conference call with Smith for further discussion and details regarding the agreement that apparently gives the league the ability to discipline Benson and seven other repeat offenders.
Smith has done a very good job of communicating with his constituents, but it could require all of his skills to unruffle feathers regarding the apparent decision to expose eight players to discipline for things happening off the field at a time when the players were locked out.