Saints quarterback Drew Brees isn’t happy with the league office. And he continues to talk about it.
Specifically, he remains concerned about the power that the Commissioner possesses.
“Just the fact that, these unilateral decisions can be made without any kind of oversight, just seems like there’s — and I’m not talking about the decisions that are made when a guy gets a DUI, or when a guy gets a weapons charge, or gets caught making bad decision in that regard,” Brees tells Sean Gregory of TIME.com. “You know, it seems like there’s just this abuse of power in a lot of ways when it comes to things like certainly the bounty allegations and accusations.”
But here’s the thing. Roger Goodell has the power that the players collectively have given him, via the process of collective bargaining. And Brees, as a member of the NFLPA Executive Committee, was directly involved in the decision to sign off on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement that preserves the Commissioner’s power.
The union erred, in our view, by agreeing to a new economic formula, sending players to training camp in 2011, and then haggling after the players were back to work over non-monetary issues, like the Commissioner’s power. Instead, the NFLPA should have insisted on getting everything worked out before anything was worked out. Once the players had returned to their teams and the lockout essentially ended, the players had no leverage. So Goodell dug in on his power, and the players had no option but to shrug their shoulders and accept it.
Then there’s the fact that the Commissioner’s power isn’t nearly as unlimited as Brees and others would have us all believe. For example, the restraints on Goodell’s authority resulted in the suspensions of the four players being vacated last month — and the new suspensions eventually could be vacated, too.
Of course, none of this means that the Commissioner properly has been exercising his considerable authority.
“Disappointed with the way that the replacement referee situation went down,” Brees said. “Really a lack of accountability from the top down. Also, I feel like, in large part, this bounty scandal, so to speak, is a big facade, and a way to cover up the shortcomings of the league, and the commissioner, with regards to player health and safety over the last three years.”
Plenty of people feel that way. There’s a chance that more than a few owners share those views, and they’ll all be getting together next week in Chicago for the first time since the bounty scandal and the referee lockout blew up in the league’s face.