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McBean settlement proves NFL needs external oversight of appeals

dumervil_mcbean-253x300 AP

We’ve been arguing for weeks, maybe longer, that the NFL shouldn’t use its tremendous bargaining power to create situations in which the NFL has the power both to administer discipline and then to decide after the fact whether the NFL administered discipline properly.

While NFL Commissioner Goodell subjectively believes that his decisions reflect the best interests of the game, sometimes those decisions may be objectively unfair.

The fact that the NFL agreed to slice in half the six-game suspension imposed on former Broncos (now Ravens) defensive lineman Ryan McBean proves that the NFL isn’t infallible on matters of discipline — which proves that the best interests of the game would be enhanced via the use of a truly independent review process.

In McBean’s case, the NFL insisted that McBean should be suspended for six games because he produced what was deemed to be a non-human urine specimen during a steroids test.  McBean attacked the sample-collection procedures through the established appeal process, but the NFL rejected his defense.

Via a lawsuit challenging the outcome of the in-house arbitration, McBean pointed out flaws in the sample-collection procedures, alleged lack of impartiality by the league’s hearing officer, and cited delayed issuance of the final decision, which included a not-so-subtle suggestion that the NFL didn’t want to disrupt Tebowmania by removing two key defensive players during a playoff run.

Despite the very high bar that applies when trying to overturn an arbitration award in court (after all, the courts prefer that parties agree to their own procedures for working out their differences, since that reduces caseloads and preserves judicial resources), the league opted not to fight this one to the end, as it did with the StarCaps case filed by Kevin and Pat Williams.

That’s the closest thing we’ll ever see to the NFL admitting that it was wrong in its use of the exclusive ability to reviews its own decisions.  And that defect as it relates to McBean could manifest itself in other cases, such as the four pending player suspensions arising from the Saints pay-for-performance/bounty system.

The league’s willingness to compromise on McBean shows that there are indeed situations where the league is, yes, wrong.  And that’s all the more reason for the league to not have the exclusive ability to make decisions and then to decide whether the decisions were decided properly.

Here’s hoping that, in the next CBA, the NFLPA insists on an independent process for all players.  Here’s also hoping that, as to non-players, the NFL realizes the value of an independent review — or that someone stands up and forces the NFL to come to that conclusion.

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40 Responses to “McBean settlement proves NFL needs external oversight of appeals”
  1. jenniferxxx says: May 8, 2012 2:02 PM

    It’s a job … J O B. It’s not a court of law. Everything doesn’t end up with lawyers and arbitrators. Ask people who work for a living.

  2. saints25 says: May 8, 2012 2:07 PM

    NFL*

  3. champion24 says: May 8, 2012 2:24 PM

    Ugh Unions…

  4. clw1906 says: May 8, 2012 2:26 PM

    jenniferxxx says:
    May 8, 2012 2:02 PM
    It’s a job … J O B. It’s not a court of law. Everything doesn’t end up with lawyers and arbitrators. Ask people who work for a living.

     I agree 100%! I’m not sure what part of that they are missing.

  5. cbass59 says: May 8, 2012 2:27 PM

    If it was MLB’s decision, they would have vacated the entire suspension in the interest of the commissioner’s team and ticket sales (see Braun case).

  6. cappa662 says: May 8, 2012 2:27 PM

    jenniferxxx… you must have a bad job.

    I have a career. And NFL players have careers. And with careers, we have due process.

  7. pftfollower says: May 8, 2012 2:28 PM

    Independant review is not a cure-all either. You would create a whole new dynamic. Example:

    The league wants a guy suspended for 2 games, but know the player will appeal. Also whoever handles the appeal will want to appear impartial, and almost always lower suspensions some. So now the league will issue a 4 game suspension, hoping to get 2.

    Also on McBean:

    He was able to dispute the “collection procedure”. Thats like getting out of a photo-radar speeding ticket. I did that once. There was a problem with the procedure, and i got out. Doesn’t change the fact i was going 92 in a 65.

    McBean didn’t establish he turned in his own, or even human, urine. He just established a problem with the procedure.

    I don’t understand how this case is such a strong example of.

  8. Kaz says: May 8, 2012 2:28 PM

    This isn’t the first time the NFL has reduced a suspension. It happens. It might not be the best tiem to admit it with the bounty case needing some steam to get hits, but truth be told it’s not like it doesn’t/hasn’t happened. In stead of acting like it’s ridiculous for the NFL to suspend then handle appeals, be fair and let people know how many times appeals have worked in the past. Instead of being forced to mention this one and then try to act like it’s some new news that it happened.

  9. jcaro5566 says: May 8, 2012 2:30 PM

    I would settle for a simple lie detector test. Yes or No, did you take the illegal substance? If no, no suspension. If yes, your suspension gets doubled for lying.

  10. jetnotjets says: May 8, 2012 2:36 PM

    @jenniferxxx @clw1906

    Um…if someone suspended you from your job and wouldn’t tell you or show you why, then any lawyer in the country would gladly take that discrimination case and make your employer pay dearly. Your comments wreak of ignorance.

  11. crazybeardedjack says: May 8, 2012 2:42 PM

    Couldn’t agree with jenifferxxx more…As far as I know, these guys don’t have a RIGHT to play in the NFL. It’s a job and a private business entity. The fact that PFT seems to think that everything that happens in the NFL now should be decided by the people/courts is a little ridiculous.

  12. bigjdve says: May 8, 2012 2:47 PM

    I am not sure what this article is talking about, I mean really, on appeal the NFL reduces a suspension and the indicates that they think that they are wrong?

    Really?

    Doesn’t he still have a 3 game suspension, meaning that they still find him guilty, but decided to be lenient?

  13. drbrousters says: May 8, 2012 2:48 PM

    Again, spoken like a lawyer:
    Truth is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is what can be proven…and even what can be proven doesn’t matter because the evidence of what can be proven may be excluded on a technicality unrelated to the evidence… but…when you sign a contract…

  14. Max says: May 8, 2012 2:50 PM

    Isn’t this a cause for the NFLPA to push the NFL for! The new CBA just passed less than 1yr ago, seems as though the NFLPA gave up some ground on the disciplinary process during negotiations. Its seems utterly ridiculous and redundant that the same office that issues fines/suspensions also judges on appeals.

    League: “I sentence you to 6 games suspension”
    Player: “I appeal”
    League: “Yea same as before 6 games, we never wrong”

  15. chaunce922 says: May 8, 2012 2:56 PM

    It’s a job … J O B. It’s not a court of law. Everything doesn’t end up with lawyers and arbitrators. Ask people who work for a living.

    __________________

    Terrible post..

    If someones taking your job away wouldnt you fight to keep it?

  16. Max says: May 8, 2012 2:58 PM

    crazybeardedjack says: May 8, 2012 2:42 PM

    Couldn’t agree with jenifferxxx more…As far as I know, these guys don’t have a RIGHT to play in the NFL. It’s a job and a private business entity. The fact that PFT seems to think that everything that happens in the NFL now should be decided by the people/courts is a little ridiculous.

    Hey, crazy….. I own a fabric and print store, its totally private business entity… can you send all the kids in your family down to my shop, I need some cheap child labor. Oh yea I think I am going to cancel my workmans comp insurance too, shhh don’t tell anyone;) You know what to hell with it I am going to lower my minimum wage tomorrow, fire all the people who have kids I need people to focus on work! Hey its my private business entity, I can do what I want!

  17. saints4evah says: May 8, 2012 2:59 PM

    GODell reminds me of crooked Governments and Police Departments. They commit an egregious injustice, then review themselves and find that they acted correctly. This man has way too much power to go with the fact he was never a player, and lacks basic understandings of what it takes to be on the field.

  18. quizguy66 says: May 8, 2012 3:04 PM

    This guy gets suspended, yet Steely McBeam still walks free. It doesn’t seem right.

    -QG

  19. steelersmichele says: May 8, 2012 3:08 PM

    Did you happen to hear Hines Ward on mike and mike this morning? They asked him about goodell and the discipline issue. He said when they were close to signing the new CBA, the steelers brought up not giving Goodell as much power and asked the other teams not to sign. The steelers suggested limiting goodells power and finding another way to handle discipline. He said the other teams ignored their pleas and said they didn’t care. They just wanted to play football.

    Then he said he thinks its kind of funny that their decision was coming back to bite them in the butt.

    The truth of the matter is that it was just happening to James Harrison and a few others, most players didn’t care because they didn’t think it would happen to them. Fujita, in my opinion, is the worst. As a member of the exec committee, he agreed to the discipline process. But now that he is being punished, he doesn’t like it. Too bad.

  20. izzylangfan says: May 8, 2012 3:09 PM

    The NFL and Roger Godell don’t have integrity so much as they play at having integrity. Roger Godell doesn’t represent the NFL so much as he represents the owners financial interests and window dresses the NFL’s reputation.

    Just look at the penalties handed down for the players in BountyGate. They do not have a hearing, they are not presented with any evidence against them. We do know that much of the testimony against them must have come from guys who lied and lied and lied and then told the players what to say. If Johathan Vilma deserves one year and maybe he does, then Payton, Vitt and deserve life.

    Oh, and then look at this concussion business.

  21. clw1906 says: May 8, 2012 3:16 PM

    jetnotjets says:
    May 8, 2012 2:36 PM
    @jenniferxxx @clw1906

    Um…if someone suspended you from your job and wouldn’t tell you or show you why, then any lawyer in the country would gladly take that discrimination case and make your employer pay dearly. Your comments wreak of ignorance.

    The ignorance is truly yours. On my job if there is discipline handed down for a violation we are afforded the opportunity to appeal it. After the appeal the penalty can be reduced or remain the same which is exactly what our CBA calls for. I think before you start spouted off information you do a little research so your comments don’t wreak of idiocy and ignorance.

  22. mancave001 says: May 8, 2012 3:17 PM

    jenniferxxx says:
    May 8, 2012 2:02 PM
    It’s a job … J O B. It’s not a court of law. Everything doesn’t end up with lawyers and arbitrators. Ask people who work for a living.
    ————————————-

    I couldn’t agree more. I’m so sick of this crap. “External review.” Please. Have Goodell make the decision and then have an appeal heard by a committee made up of current and former coaches, players, NFL reps, etc (or whatever the makeup). Florio, do we really need to encourage more litigation in this country? As one poster pointed out in an earlier thread, pretty soon we’ll have lawyers on the field ready to file affidavits for blown calls. Enough. Football now.

  23. mhs8031 says: May 8, 2012 3:42 PM

    The Saints are going to make a mockery of the power the player’s union has to represent all of the players in the NFL. These 4 players could have met with Roger before the ruling, but chose not to do so because they would have to face facts. This way, they can hide behind smokescreens and media. I have even heard players who were not involved make comments like, “RG is taking away a man’s livlihood.” That shows me how narrow their viewpoints are. He is prolonging the ability of countless others who could be injured for life by these renegades. The union has never stated its position in this matter because that would involve presenting facts and making a stance.

  24. mjkelly77 says: May 8, 2012 3:48 PM

    crazybeardedjack says:May 8, 2012 2:42 PM

    Couldn’t agree with jenifferxxx more…As far as I know, these guys don’t have a RIGHT to play in the NFL. It’s a job and a private business entity. The fact that PFT seems to think that everything that happens in the NFL now should be decided by the people/courts is a little ridiculous.
    _______________________

    No, it’s absolutely and totally ridiculous. Most employees are “at will” employees (I’m sure Florio knows this) and can be released at any time for any reason. NFL players however, are protected by their union and their individual contracts. To ask to have a third party for oversight is merely pandering to the public.

  25. Fan On Fire_Maurice Barksdale says: May 8, 2012 3:49 PM

    For the NFL it’s all public relations. They don’t care if a player is judged fairly, as long as they can use the punishment to spread their propaganda and it serves their legal purposes.

    They expect that people will just go along with their decision, not because they are right, but because they are the mighty NFL, and it would be futile to cross them. If you truly feel like you’ve been wronged, why should anyone just roll over and die, simply because Goodell says your’re wrong if you’re not?

    I say it again, the NFL itself had a hand in creating the bounty problem. It’s profited from it and known about bounties for decades, yet did nothing about it. The NFL has promoted hard hits, and made it part of their appeal.

    Only recently since they’ve been sued, has the NFL taken this stance of caring about player safety. Roger Goodell has mistakes in judgment and bias just like anyone else. Being NFL Commissioner doesn’t mean he’s all knowing.

  26. pongonfl says: May 8, 2012 3:55 PM

    All this “proves” is that the NFL didnt want to spend 3 million on lawyers to keep a guy from 3 game checks.

  27. mjkelly77 says: May 8, 2012 3:57 PM

    izzylangfan says:May 8, 2012 3:09 PM

    The NFL and Roger Godell don’t have integrity so much as they play at having integrity. Roger Godell doesn’t represent the NFL so much as he represents the owners financial interests and window dresses the NFL’s reputation …
    ____________________

    Duhhh, really? Mr. Goodell in his position as the Commissioner of the National Football League represents the owners? And I guess you’re going to tell me that DeMoron Smith represents the players? What everyone needs to realize is that the owners’ interests and the well-being of the NFL are ultimately what determines the players’ salaries.

  28. sonnyboychris says: May 8, 2012 3:58 PM

    Even when the NFL admits its WRONG as it has in this article, some of you idiots still can’t get Goddells stick out of your butts.

  29. vikingamericann says: May 8, 2012 3:58 PM

    jenniferxxx | May 8, 2012, 2:02 PM EDT
    It’s a job … J O B. It’s not a court of law. Everything doesn’t end up with lawyers and arbitrators. Ask people who work for a living.

    I would love to have an employee like you. You understand that the boss is always right. If you should misunderstand your umm extra job duties to perform. You would never use due process or labor laws to claim I was unfair. Also, you would never call OSHA if I wanted to save a few bucks on safety. Heck don’t call the labor board demanding time and half for your extra special duties. After all it’s a private company and a job. So Jennifer here’s to rolling back the clock 100 years.

  30. phonymcringring says: May 8, 2012 4:04 PM

    Or, the NFL decided to budge on this no-name because they know when they deny the ‘aints appeals someone will point out (again) that it’s unfair because the NFL hears its own appeals. The league can use the McBain situation to counter by showing they handle appeals fairly and are not afraid to admit a mistake. But since they didn’t make a mistake in the bounty cases, no need for any adjustment.

  31. vikingamericann says: May 8, 2012 4:10 PM

    All this anti worker anti union stuff makes you easy marks. I can say that I’m surprised, I’ve seen to many people put their faith in the all powerful private sector. The funny thing is, the ones who have the boss is always right attitude, are the least successful people. Strange that those who would benefit most from labor laws, due process and worker rights, are the most opposed to it. But hey it’s good for me I keep getting richer of your own ignorance.

  32. kodakinvegas says: May 8, 2012 4:26 PM

    They got bigger fish to fry. Goodell likes being lord and master of all things. Good like negotiating that away from him any time soon. I think he’s right on the bounty thing but the player discipline fines seem to be all over the board. No primary rule of thumb. Picks a number and goes. Somewhere in the near future maybe they’ll set up a point system for bad hits as all are not of the same magnitude. I do not have a problem with a neutral arbitrator or neutral committee. But busted is busted and the boss is still the boss. Like it or not. Any representative of the NFLPA caught up in the bounty thing should be fined AND disqualified from their position in the NFLPA. No exceptions

  33. rushmatic says: May 8, 2012 4:27 PM

    jetnotjets says:
    May 8, 2012 2:36 PM
    @jenniferxxx @clw1906

    Um…if someone suspended you from your job and wouldn’t tell you or show you why, then any lawyer in the country would gladly take that discrimination case and make your employer pay dearly. Your comments wreak of ignorance.

    ____________________

    Wow, I’m going to go ahead and agree with a Jets fan. Very shortsighted and reeks of trying to get up-votes, rather than thinking before posting. Then again, look at her name — she’s obviously trying very hard to get attention.

  34. steelersmichele says: May 8, 2012 4:28 PM

    The question I have now is who is representing the players that were targeted? I know favre and warner no longer play, but Rodgers still plays. How come the NFLPA hasn’t come out in his defense? Why isn’t the NFLPA saying they want to make sure players aren’t targeted and hurt to the point their season for career is over?

  35. kodakinvegas says: May 8, 2012 4:36 PM

    Forgot to mention that the NFL settling with McBean at this point is kind of like shooting himself in the foot though. It’s going to open a whole new set of worms and we all know Florio is loving it. He can really beat the drums now. LOL

  36. vikingamericann says: May 8, 2012 4:51 PM

    jcaro5566 | May 8, 2012, 2:30 PM EDT
    I would settle for a simple lie detector test. Yes or No, did you take the illegal substance? If no, no suspension. If yes, your suspension gets doubled for lying.

    Too bad no one has invented a lie detector that works. That polygraph thing has a 57 percent accuracy rating. But hey if one was invented imagine going to MVA to renew your drivers license, and having to pass lie detector to renew it. Or worse my wife gets the take home version of one.

  37. botchedextrapoint says: May 8, 2012 4:57 PM

    I have been saying on posts like this for weeks that an independent commission for all discipline has been tried in Australian Rules Football and works brilliantly. It came about when teams started using the court system to get injunctions on suspensions so that star players could play finals football. The AFL brought in a retired judge to devise a fair system. He came up with a points system where offenses earn a set number of points. You carry points from an offense for 12 months. You can appeal if you think the grading is wrong but you run the risk of doubling your points if the appeal is frivolous. It works and the advantage is that by being challenged in a fair and logical way the system gets tighter and stronger over time. The AFL is able to adjust and change rules based on rulings from appeals. 15 years on there is hardly any controversy around discipline. Everyone hated a judge getting involved at first but the system we have in place now is fair. If the NFL adopts this PFT will have very few legal stories in a few years time.

  38. blacknyellablacknyella says: May 8, 2012 6:07 PM

    how dare you speak ill of das fuhrer!!!! all hail, roger! sieg heil!!

  39. cowhawkfan says: May 8, 2012 6:33 PM

    Yes, if my job disciplined me without evidence of any wrong doing. That doesn’t make me less innocent. Also, isn’t tha what happened here? So where’s the beef? The player’s bargained for and agreed to this process. So, where’s the beef? If I agree to an employment contract that said I could be terminated without cause or evidence of wrong doing, why would I complain after exactly that happened?

  40. jluns275 says: May 8, 2012 8:38 PM

    ‘Due process’ is simply a series of steps for the allegedly agrieved party to carry out & progress through before being allowed to take a matter to court, in the hope to help slow the vast proliferation of frivolous lawsuits brought by lawyers (like Florio).
    Of course Florio wants to paint the league’s discipline decisions as wrong, so he & his liberal lawyer buddies can make a killing challenging them in court, instead of the players living by the CBA….you know, the one they agreed to-but don’t want to live by.
    I remember quite clearly something called a lockout last year in which the players had every opportunity to remedy or challenge anything in the CBA they felt was wrong or that they could not accept.
    In the end, they just signed whatever they had to so as not to miss any gamechecks.
    One more reason out of a great many not to trust the NFLPA (or just about any other union).

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