Given that only a handful of players have been suspended for on-field conduct during the tenure of Commissioner Roger Goodell, not much attention has been paid to the league’s procedures for such situations.
The Ndamukong Suh case will change that, and the situation demonstrates very real differences between the process for appealing suspensions for on-field actions and suspensions for violation of the league’s steroids, substance abuse, and personal conduct policies.
For example, the league is willing to expedite the appeal of Suh’s suspension, which presumably applies to all other suspensions for on-field behavior. For off-field infractions, the appeal process often takes months. That’s good for the players, to the extent that the players want to get the situation resolved sooner rather than later.
But here’s where it’s not so good for the players. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello tells PFT that, while his appeal is pending, Suh can’t practice with the team.
That’s the opposite of the protocol that applies when players appeal suspensions for steroids, drugs, or personal conduct. Under those policies, the player remains eligible to practice and play until the appeal is resolved.
And it’s objectively unfair to keep the player away from his team pending the outcome of the appeal. What if Art Shell decides on Friday afternoon that Suh shouldn’t be suspended at all? Suh will be less prepared for Sunday night’s game against the Saints than he otherwise would have been, because Suh will be banned from practice.
It’s a loophole that needs to be addressed, and that arguably should have been addressed within the context of the new CBA.