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NFLPA grievances attempt to steer review process away from Goodell

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The NFLPA has wasted little time challenging the discipline imposed on four Saints players (two current, two former) by Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Two separate grievances have been filed, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.  PFT has obtained copies of the documentation.

In one grievance, filed under Article 43 of the labor deal, the union initially argues that Goodell lacks the authority to discipline players for conduct occurring before August 4, 2011, the date on which the current CBA was finalized.  The grievance cites language releasing all players from conduct in which the players engaged before August 4, 2011.

The Article 43 grievance then argues that, as the discipline relates to any intention or effort or offer to injure opposing players, Ted Cottrell and Art Shell have authority over the appeal process, and not Goodell.  Cottrell and Shell have been jointly appointed by the NFL and the NFLPA to handle the appeals of fines or suspensions for “conduct on the playing field with respect to an opposing player or players.”  The NFLPA believes that the bounty allegations fall within the scope of that clause.

The NFLPA also has filed a “System Arbitration” proceeding, arguing that allegations of payments being made to players separate and apart from their contracts fall within the authority of Special Master Stephen Burbank.  This claims arises from the fact that the labor deal carves out specific types of disputes that are referred to Burbank for resolution.  Burbank’s jurisdiction includes Article 14 of the CBA, which encompasses payments to players beyond their contracts (and thus beyond the salary cap).

And so, as expected, these grievances represent a threshold effort to steer the appeal process away from Goodell.  One grievance focuses on the penalties from the perspective of the funding of the bounty pool, and one focuses on the penalties from the perspective of the effort to secure payment via attempts to inflict injury.

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48 Responses to “NFLPA grievances attempt to steer review process away from Goodell”
  1. sj39 says: May 4, 2012 9:30 AM

    Let it go.

  2. umadumad says: May 4, 2012 9:31 AM

    If things void under the last CBA then why cosign the cap penaltys? They drug their own grave

  3. mikea311 says: May 4, 2012 9:31 AM

    read “Lawyers get involved and people dont get punished when they should becuase of technicalities”.

  4. eagleswin says: May 4, 2012 9:34 AM

    They are also trying to get the case heard in front of Judge Doty in Minnesota but are still looking for a way to legally get this heard in his court. Doty already has already written the ruling the way the NFLPA told him to write it, he just has to wait until the NFLPA tells him he can go public with it.

  5. chc4 says: May 4, 2012 9:35 AM

    Um, shouldn’t they’ve thought of this when negotiating the CBA less than one year ago???? Sorry union but you put pen to paper so live with it.

  6. joetoronto says: May 4, 2012 9:36 AM

    The union has never addressed it’s members that were on the other side of this issue, the ones who were targeted.

    Shame on the union.

  7. eaglebobby says: May 4, 2012 9:36 AM

    These players, especially Hargrove and Vilma are cowards. If they had nothing to hide, why didn’t they meet with the commisioner to try and clear their names? Now, they hide behind the union, even though an independent prosecutor has said they have the evidence to go forward.

  8. whatnojets says: May 4, 2012 9:43 AM

    In other words, is this like “statue of limitations”?

  9. r0b1b0y says: May 4, 2012 9:48 AM

    Goodell is unhinged. Regardless of how one feels about the Saints, it is better for his powers to be put in check sooner rather than later. The league will be healthier going forward once this man has more clearly established boundaries.

  10. themonster49 says: May 4, 2012 9:49 AM

    “We did the crime, you proved it, we just don’t want to do the time.”

    That’s not how it works. Good will processes, options, aren’t to be abused by proven victimizers. That is offensive. I am upset by the NFLPA’s arrogance. Truly unhappy with the NFLPA. Shame on them.

    If you did the crime, and they got you with the bloody knife in your hand, you do the #@$#ing time.

  11. dldove77 says: May 4, 2012 9:51 AM

    Headline should be, “NFLPA Encourages Future Players to Break Rules.”

  12. sonnyboychris says: May 4, 2012 9:54 AM

    Good, there needs to be some checks and balances brought into this situation.

    GODdell being judge and jury ain’t gonna cut it.

    Regardless of the outcome, more balance is needed.

  13. sonnyboychris says: May 4, 2012 9:57 AM

    Let’s not forget that the NFL still hasn’t turned over the evidence…

    Just like how GODdell burned the spy-gate tapes. And just like how they penalized the Skins/Pukes for not participating in illegal activity.

    They are just as crooked as everyone else.

  14. jeff061 says: May 4, 2012 9:59 AM

    This was well played by the Union. Relying on legalese is the only shot they had here…and they do have a shot.

  15. mojosmagic says: May 4, 2012 10:00 AM

    You would think the NFLPA would want to protect their players from other rouge players? Goodell has to do what he is doing or injury lawsuits from retired players will end the game of football as we know it.

  16. godofwine330 says: May 4, 2012 10:06 AM

    Goodell has way too much power. Suspending Payton (who can coach for 20 more years) and Vilma (who has 3-5 years max) for the same penalty is ridiculous. They should have held up signing the labor agreement last year, but that would have cut into the season. I believe that even if it cut into the season it is something worth fighting for. Now it may be too late because Goodell has the power, he’s drunk as a lord off of it and absolutely will not relinquish it unless he is made to (and who is in the power to make him?)

    I believe Goodell has gone too far with the fines with $5000 here and $50k there regardless whether the player makes the minimum or the max, and the minimum guys can’t take it. There are more fines in a weekend than there used to be in a year of football not 15 years ago. I understand for egregious acts (like the hit on Steve Smith after he scored a TD last year) but for a bang-bang play where the DB is goig fast and the receiver turns or ducks and now a legal hit is an illegal hit when he couldn’t possibly changed direction in mid-air.

    Change needs to be made as far as penalties and fines are concerned, but no one has the power to pry it from Goodell’s cold, dead hands.

  17. chawbaw says: May 4, 2012 10:07 AM

    The first step towards embarassing that criminal Goodell.

  18. Manbearpig says: May 4, 2012 10:09 AM

    2009 Super Bowl Champions – New Orleans Saints*

  19. realitypolice says: May 4, 2012 10:11 AM

    The suspended players are members of the NFLPA. They are entitled to the best defense the NFLPA can provide them.

    It is one of the benefits included when they pay their dues and they are entitled to it.

  20. genericuser8888 says: May 4, 2012 10:11 AM

    @themonster49 …but that’s the thing…there is no bloody knife. At least, not on the playing field. And article 43 says Goodell does not have any power over players with regard to “conduct on the playing field with respect to an opposing player or players. ”

    That’s why they are appealing.

    By the way, Mike Golic (ESPN) looked up the suspended players penalties for the last THREE YEARS, and here is what he found for regular season games over that entire time period:

    Vilma: 2 “unnecessary roughness” type penalties called against him (1 roughing the passer, 1 personal foul)

    Will Smith: 1 Roughing the Passer, 0 personal fouls

    Hargrove: No regular season “unnecessary roughness” type fouls. ZERO

  21. doolnutts says: May 4, 2012 10:29 AM

    Goodells power is the same as another head of an organization… Football is ran like any other company… Boarch memebers (NFL owners) then a CEO ( Goodell) and then everyone else under that….Just because its football doesn’t mean they don’t use the same techniques every other company of that size uses…

  22. 7thlombardiontheway says: May 4, 2012 10:29 AM

    And people wonder why the Steeler Nation is starting their own league? 7 and ascension. Whoa.

  23. doolnutts says: May 4, 2012 10:29 AM

    *board members ^^

  24. swampdog4life says: May 4, 2012 10:31 AM

    “In one grievance, filed under Article 43 of the labor deal, the union initially argues that Goodell lacks the authority to discipline players for conduct occurring before August 4, 2011, the date on which the current CBA was finalized. The grievance cites language releasing all players from conduct in which the players engaged before August 4, 2011.”

    This should be the end of the case! Furthermore, anybody who’s ever played Defense competitively knows that EVERY team, in EVERY sport targets the biggest threat on the opposing team. It may not be as elaborate as the Saints have put together, but this is simply Old Skool Football in Ncw School error. It’s a sign of the times.

    We all understand why Goodell is being so hard on this issue and I think the coaches deserve the bulk of the punishment. But, the players don’t deserve the treatment they are getting at all! The only evidence that has been disclosed (apart from all the Game Film) is the pregame rhetoric from players and coaches. If you’re going to get mad at Vilma for slapping 10K on the table, then what about Reggie for caring a Bat shouting “Bring the Wood”. Who hasn’t had a coach tell them to “Kill” everybody on the other side of the ball?

    My point, is where is the evidence on the field. The individual player penalties for the 2009-2011 seasons COMBINED…

    Vilma: 2 “unnecessary roughness” type penalties called against him (1 roughing the passer, 1 personal foul). Vilma had a helmet to helmet on Eli back in 2009 that negated an INT.

    Will Smith: 1 Roughing the Passer, 0 personal fouls

    Hargrove: No regular season “unnecessary roughness” type fouls. ZERO

    Hargrove had 2 roughing penalties in the 2009 playoffs (1 vs. the Vikings, 1 vs. the Colts).

    Will Smith I’m willing to bet it was something silly like his hand hit the QBs helmet.

    Hargrove got one for spearing Favre and the other was during the SB on a WR for a late hit. Late, but nothing that would be evidence of an intent to injure.

    The real issue is whether there is evidence that Smith/Vilma or others intentionally tried to injure a player beyond the hard hitting that always happens. Did the Saints engage in ANYTHING on the field different than other teams that is indicative of dirty play for pay! It did NOT happen. Penalties and vicious hits happen every single week in the NFL and all players get usually is a fine and short suspension in extreme, repetitive cases.

    The Saints are guilty of poor judgement clearly in throwing bounties into the motivational efforts of the coaches and for rhetoric perhaps a bit over the top, but they are NOT guilty of being a dirty football team. The penalties given IMO are beyond reason for merely rhetoric before games. If Mr. Goodell is so concerned with the players safety he should be giving out season long suspensions for the actual vicious hits that go on weekly. That would put a stop to those teams who cross the line with intentional efforts to injure someone.

  25. whatnojets says: May 4, 2012 10:32 AM

    genericuser8888 says:
    May 4, 2012 10:11 AM

    They (PFT) again deleted my post!
    I smell “collussion”!

  26. lbrad413 says: May 4, 2012 10:34 AM

    @manbearpig.. We get it bro you think there should be an * on the saints championship… You post that on every saints article.. Post something relevant or interesting. I know you have a lot of time to kill while you are kicking it back in Mom’s basement so there’s no excuse for posting the same crap over and over

  27. cali49er707 says: May 4, 2012 10:40 AM

    genericuser8888 says:
    May 4, 2012 10:11 AM
    @themonster49 …but that’s the thing…there is no bloody knife. At least, not on the playing field. And article 43 says Goodell does not have any power over players with regard to “conduct on the playing field with respect to an opposing player or players. ”

    That’s why they are appealing.

    By the way, Mike Golic (ESPN) looked up the suspended players penalties for the last THREE YEARS, and here is what he found for regular season games over that entire time period:

    Vilma: 2 “unnecessary roughness” type penalties called against him (1 roughing the passer, 1 personal foul)

    Will Smith: 1 Roughing the Passer, 0 personal fouls

    Hargrove: No regular season “unnecessary roughness” type fouls. ZERO
    ————————– —————————— ————-
    good point but, you will notice a rise in fouls during the playoffs out of this bunch, specifically during their super bowl run season, im not criticizing your point im just saying

  28. themage78 says: May 4, 2012 10:42 AM

    @genericuser8888
    So If I try and take someone out of the game, but don’t do it, it’s ok?
    And just because they have so few calls against them doesn’t mean they weren’t trying. The refs can call only what they can see.

    Go back at the 2009 NFC championship game and look at Favre’s injuries. You don’t get that beat up by someone just sacking you. Some of those hits were done on purpose.

  29. dryzzt23 says: May 4, 2012 10:44 AM

    Typical union tactics.
    Agree to one thing but renege on it and demand special treatment.

    Since when is the NFL itself accountable to the NFLPA?
    This is a clear example of how the inmates want to run the asylum, but when things go bad, they’ll put all the blame on the NFL.

  30. sjoyner59 says: May 4, 2012 10:44 AM

    there needs to be some checks and balances,Goodell has WAY too much power and authority..

  31. ernie ernie says: May 4, 2012 10:53 AM

    I listened to several sports commentators the other day and one of them (who I totally agreed with)took the other commentators to task: (paraphrasing) ‘playing hard and trying to win is one thing. Playing to injure another player even if it means permanent damage and ruining another persons career is quite another and anyone involved in doing this should have the book thrown at them, possbly tossed from the sport’.

    Vilma and all these guys are lawyered up and would have us believe they are innocent when in fact one of there own, directly involved in it already testified and gave hard evidence this took place.

    Notice the union did not even try to dispute the findings or evidence.

  32. starvingardens says: May 4, 2012 10:57 AM

    This really stupid.

    This isn’t if the helmet don’t fit you must aquit!

    Nothing like this has never happened before. They are setting precedence for the actions taken. If anything… After the these issues are taken care of, Shell, Cottrell, and Burbank can do there jobs since they know the scope of the particular issue now.

    You can blame the commissioner going hard on a team and is players after they lied to him when he first found out about the allegations.

  33. baddegg says: May 4, 2012 11:02 AM

    By defending these four players, the NFLPA is not defending others who may be unfairly injured by their actions.

    Lawyer move…take no real stand on the issue by argue points on all sides.

  34. jacks40 says: May 4, 2012 11:06 AM

    Even if Saints players punishments are upheld by whomever would take over the process, it is good for Goodell to not be the sole decision maker for these issues.

  35. flannlv says: May 4, 2012 11:30 AM

    In a contract, the specific takes precedence over the general. Article 43 appears to specifically address player conduct prior to the August 2011 date. However, the NFL is going to argue the Saints continued this conduct into the 2011 season (I think the Saints were warned prior to the Det playoff game) thereby negating the application of Article 43. In a court of law (which I am not sure this would fall given the CBA) the NFL would have to demonstrate a continuation of the pay for performance activities thereby conferring jurisdiction over the conduct.

  36. trubroncfan07 says: May 4, 2012 11:30 AM

    Good news, this guys has way to much power and slowly ruining the game I love.

  37. dryzzt23 says: May 4, 2012 11:45 AM

    Ok so the NFLPA says that Goodell does not have the legal authority, based on the new CBA, to punish players for past transgressions that were committed prior to August 4, 2011.

    Fine, if that is how the union wants to play, if I were Goodell, who is trying to make the game safer from headhunters like the Saints, I would state the following:

    The NFLPA is not interested in the safety of the players and demands that no punishment be levied on the players who participated in the bounty program and who, by their own actions, could have caused injuries and/or concussions to other NFL players.
    Based on this, I declare that the NFL players who have played after August 4, 2011, have no right to claim any damages whatsoever from the NFL for any injuries, including concussions, that were incurred while on the playing field. This is because the NFLPA cannot allow the players to inflict harm on other players, then sue the NFL for damages on behalf of said players, but at the same time demand that the perpetrators are not punished.

    The NFLPA cannot have it both freakin’ ways here. I would love to see the Republican members of Congress step in and protect the owners from this fiasco.

  38. bigjdve says: May 4, 2012 11:46 AM

    While I wouldn’t mind having someone other than Goodell as the appeal provider, I really don’t understand where people keep saying that he is drunk on power.

    All penalties for helmet to helmet hits are a direct result of new information regarding concussions and the NFL trying to protect the players. This may come from financial motivation BUT it is still there.

    The reason that the NFL is cracking down on this also has to do with the fact that the former players are blaming the NFL instead of other players for their injuries. Maybe those players should look at the PA that is fighting for the people making the hits.

    The Saints got nailed, because they were warned and then not only did they not stop they lied about it. That signifies no remorse. Since everyone wants to keep comparing this to a court case, if you lie in court you are given a much harsher penalty.

    For the person that stated that the crimes supposedly committed by Payton and Vilma, stop and think, they both are leaders of the team and were paying for the hits to happen. So you could say they both were ringleaders. Thus they are equal. This isn’t about how much longer they can do their job it is about the act in question.

    You do notice the that players that were accused of doing the hitting were suspended less.

    I honestly don’t think the players win this one. It has to do with player safety, since there are lawsuits coming, it would kill those lawsuits if a judge or arbiter stated that the NFL is being too cautious, and right or wrong that is what it will come down to.

    The PA also needs to think about they are opening themselves up for as well. If it goes to court that “evidence” will most likely come out, what happens when it is justifiable? The PA is on the wrong side of the majority of players, they chose to represent the players that were trying to hurt their own. How is that going to work?

    You want to talk about someone drunk on power, look at De Smith. He is out of his league, keeps getting in deeper and deeper, and he keeps screwing over more and more players.

  39. dryzzt23 says: May 4, 2012 11:55 AM

    All I know is that the Saints bounty program involved intent to injure.

    Hundreds of former NFL players are suing the NFL, even though they KNEW the risks when they signed their contracts and accepted their paychecks, over injuries suffered during their NFL career.

    So the NFLPA is saying that the NFL should NOT PUNISH players who intend to injure other players. Why is this? Simple, the union wants the players to be able to pay their union dues.

    IMO, the players should immediately lose any right to sue over injuries based on this “defense” of the Saints players.

  40. CKL says: May 4, 2012 12:06 PM

    realitypolice says:
    May 4, 2012 10:11 AM
    The suspended players are members of the NFLPA. They are entitled to the best defense the NFLPA can provide them.

    It is one of the benefits included when they pay their dues and they are entitled to it
    _________________________________
    True.

    BUT…I do think it would be EXTREMELY interesting if any of the players they were reported to have targeted (like Newton, etc) wanted to make a case for themselves instead of either declining to comment (Favre) or saying they didn’t feel targeted (Warner). What would the union do then?

    Is there anything to the fact that only two of the guys who were supposedly targeted are retired and they are the only two to comment that they didn’t feel targeted?

    The time for them to address Goodell’s power was in the CBA’s talks. They decided a couple padded practices, OTAs, etc were either easier to debate or more preferable issues to fight for. Oh well.

  41. majbobby says: May 4, 2012 12:08 PM

    Ok Gore, Davis, Crabtree, Farve, Warner et others your move

    Bring lawsuit against the players, saints, coaches, NFLPA

  42. sportmentary says: May 4, 2012 12:23 PM

    The NFLPA shows once again why it lacks credibility and common sense.

  43. swampdog4life says: May 4, 2012 12:34 PM

    “In one grievance, filed under Article 43 of the labor deal, the union initially argues that Goodell lacks the authority to discipline players for conduct occurring before August 4, 2011, the date on which the current CBA was finalized. The grievance cites language releasing all players from conduct in which the players engaged before August 4, 2011.”

    This should be the end of the case! Furthermore, anybody who’s ever played Defense competitively knows that EVERY team, in EVERY sport targets the biggest threat on the opposing team. It may not be as elaborate as the Saints have put together, but this is simply Old Skool Football in Ncw School error. It’s a sign of the times.

    We all understand why Goodell is being so hard on this issue and I think the coaches deserve the bulk of the punishment. But, the players don’t deserve the treatment they are getting at all! The only evidence that has been disclosed (apart from all the Game Film) is the pregame rhetoric from players and coaches. If you’re going to get mad at Vilma for slapping 10K on the table, then what about Reggie for caring a Bat shouting “Bring the Wood”. Who hasn’t had a coach tell them to “Kill” everybody on the other side of the ball?

    My point, is where is the evidence on the field. The individual player penalties for the 2009-2011 seasons COMBINED…

    Vilma: 2 “unnecessary roughness” type penalties called against him (1 roughing the passer, 1 personal foul). Vilma had a helmet to helmet on Eli back in 2009 that negated an INT.

    Will Smith: 1 Roughing the Passer, 0 personal fouls

    Hargrove: No regular season “unnecessary roughness” type fouls. ZERO

    Hargrove had 2 roughing penalties in the 2009 playoffs (1 vs. the Vikings, 1 vs. the Colts).

    Will Smith I’m willing to bet it was something silly like his hand hit the QBs helmet.

    Hargrove got one for spearing Favre and the other was during the SB on a WR for a late hit. Late, but nothing that would be evidence of an intent to injure.

    The real issue is whether there is evidence that Smith/Vilma or others intentionally tried to injure a player beyond the hard hitting that always happens. Did the Saints engage in ANYTHING on the field different than other teams that is indicative of dirty play for pay! It did NOT happen. Penalties and vicious hits happen every single week in the NFL and all players get usually is a fine and short suspension in extreme, repetitive cases.

    The Saints are guilty of poor judgement clearly in throwing bounties into the motivational efforts of the coaches and for rhetoric perhaps a bit over the top, but they are NOT guilty of being a dirty football team. The penalties given IMO are beyond reason for merely rhetoric before games. If Mr. Goodell is so concerned with the players safety he should be giving out season long suspensions for the actual vicious hits that go on weekly. That would put a stop to those teams who cross the line with intentional efforts to injure someone.

  44. gimmeabruschi says: May 4, 2012 1:15 PM

    The list of those who count themselves as enemies of Goodell keeps growing.

  45. musicman495 says: May 4, 2012 2:42 PM

    joetoronto says: May 4, 2012 9:36 AM

    The union has never addressed it’s members that were on the other side of this issue, the ones who were targeted.
    ————————
    Maybe because the players allegedly targeted (which despite the league’s huffing and puffing about a three-year program amounts to two players in two games – Favre and Warner) are retired and have not asked the union to.

  46. broncobrewer says: May 4, 2012 3:52 PM

    Why didn’t the coaches union do the same thing? Do they have the same rights under the bargaining agreement

  47. aglawman says: May 4, 2012 7:50 PM

    Williams, Vilma and Co. are slimeballs…period.

    But there has to be limitations on the power Goodell wields. Goodell’s daily BS is becoming the biggest story in the NFL on a daily basis.

    Goodell appears convinced that he’s the star. He’s forgotten who generates his hefty paychecks.

    I hope the four Saints losers win their grievances against Goodell…then blow out both knees in Week One.

    Karma is a bitch, boys.

  48. silentcount says: May 5, 2012 4:05 AM

    There’s already a system in place which is far better than what Goodell is trying to do in his Bounty Gate fabrication. It’s called officials on the field watching your every move. If it’s not a legal hit, then you get your punishment right there and then. This “thought police” thing will not work. Three years ago I heard that you were thinking about hitting the quarterback extra hard. Therefore, I’m now taking away all of your money and your freedom.

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