Even with a Collective Bargaining Agreement that runs for nine more years, the NFL and the NFLPA can agree to modify the deal at any time. (If you don’t believe that, just ask the Redskins and the Cowboys and the $46 million in cap space they used to have.)
There’s a more natural opportunity to beef up DUI penalties without reopening the deal, given that the portion of the labor deal that deals with DUIs still hasn’t been resolved.
As Albert Breer of NFL Network recently pointed out, the league and the union are still operating under the 2010 substance-abuse policy, given the ongoing delays in working out an agreement regarding HGH testing. (They’re also still operating under the terms of the 2010 policy regarding steroids and other performance-enhancing substances.)
As a result, DUI penalties currently reside among a stew of issues including HGH testing, the appeals process (which still gives the Commissioner final say), and any other issues or concerns regarding the substance-abuse and steroids policies.
So if the NFL wants the DUI penalties to increase, the league needs to be willing to bend on some other issue(s), like using an outside arbitrator to determine whether the punishments imposed by the league should be upheld or overturned.
In no case should the prosecutor also be the judge. And even though the league prefers to not have a third party stick its proboscis into 345 Park Avenue’s business, when it comes to questions regarding whether and to what extent players will be available to play, public confidence in the league office and in turn the game of football itself would be enhanced if some external, unbiased person were charged with hearing the league’s side of the story, the player’s side of the story, and making a fair, balanced decision based on the language of the policy in question and the facts at issue.