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NFLPA asks court to require joint agreement on arbitrator

Jeffrey Kessler AP

Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma has asked Judge Helen Berrigan to prevent former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue from serving as the arbitrator in the appeal of the bounty suspensions, and to appoint someone else to handle the matter.  The NFLPA has made a similar, but not identical, request.

The union’s submission to Judge Berrigan on behalf of Saints defensive end Will Smith, Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, and free-agent defensive end Anthony Hargrove asks that she require the parties to make a joint selection of the next arbitrator.

It’s a great idea, assuming there’s someone on whom the two sides would agree.  If they agree on the arbitrator, neither side will be able to complain about the selection or, in turn, the result.

The NFLPA’s submission also attacks aggressively the decision to appoint Tagliabue.  “It is difficult to imagine a choice that would more obviously fail the evident partiality test,” NFLPA counsel Jeffrey Kessler writes.   “First and foremost, Mr. Tagliabue has a fiduciary and ethical duty to serve the interests of his and his law firm’s clients: the NFL and Commissioner Goodell.  Nonetheless, the NFL once again maintains that it is immune from any and all legal requirements and can conduct its arbitrations in any biased or unfair manner that it wishes.  This is not the law.”

Underscoring the reality that the players had not previously asked Tagliabue to step aside, Kessler sent a separate letter on Wednesday to Tagliabue officially asking him to step down.  Kessler asks a prompt ruling by Tagliabue, given that an appeal hearing has been set for October 30.  Kessler also asks that Tagliabue, if he proceeds as arbitrator, agree to impose a one-week stay of the enforcement of the ruling, which would allow the players to attempt to obtain a temporary or permanent injunction against the ruling in court.

Plenty of you are sick of hearing about this stuff.  I’ll explain why you shouldn’t be at 12:00 p.m. ET, in the opening segment of Thursday’s PFT Live.  Right before I gloat to MDS about having a five-game lead in our picks contest.

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39 Responses to “NFLPA asks court to require joint agreement on arbitrator”
  1. sj39 says: Oct 25, 2012 11:59 AM

    Guilty. Take your punishment and stop clogging up courts needed for real issues. I now wish Goodall would ban any of these whiners fore life for conduct detrimental to the NFL.

  2. bigjdve says: Oct 25, 2012 12:01 PM

    If they wanted a jointly selected arbitrator, they should’ve asked for that right in the CBA. Vilma and the 3 others signed the agreement that allows Goodell to hear the appeals or have HIM pick the arbitrator.

    It seems like they have some buyers remorse.

  3. eagleswin says: Oct 25, 2012 12:05 PM

    This is beyond ridiculous now.

    Do you know why there is no HGH testing in the NFL right now even though it was agreed to in the CBA over a year ago? Because the NFLPA had to agree to the method (and they never will).

    It’s the same thing with improving player safety. The NFL has come up with improved helmets and increased pad wearing requirements which the union has to agree to before the NFL can do anything. The union doesn’t want it so no matter what the NFL proposes it isn’t going to happen. The NFLPA will still of course sue the NFL later for failing to protect them from themselves.

  4. coltzfan166 says: Oct 25, 2012 12:08 PM

    I have to believe it would be much more convenient for the players to take the suspensions at this point

  5. sh4doww4lker says: Oct 25, 2012 12:12 PM

    Easy and fair arbitrator solution — parties agree on 5 arbitrator names….. then when needed each strike two and using the remaining one……..

  6. bakaduin says: Oct 25, 2012 12:12 PM

    How do you sign a major contract like the CBA and then decide oh I don’t like the way this is handled and go to courts. How is this not breach of contract (or the entire CBA)?

  7. chicagobtech says: Oct 25, 2012 12:16 PM

    I think having both sides agree on an arbitrator is a wonderful idea. Both sides should make a note for the next CBA agreement. Or the current one can be ammended with the change, if the players are willing to give something up in return.

    Otherwise the players can take a flying leap for trying to shoehorn something new into the CBA without negotiation. An agreement that the players agreed to.

  8. dukemarc says: Oct 25, 2012 12:21 PM

    I swear I lose 12 hours off my life every time I read involving Jeffrey Kessler.

  9. kattykathy says: Oct 25, 2012 12:31 PM

    The only people sick of hearing about this are the Goodell teabaggers.

    Those of us who can think for ourselves, can rationally look at the lack of proof, and can spot a con job a mile away actually love these updates which are getting us closer to a Goodell smackdown by a true impartial executioner

  10. marthisdil says: Oct 25, 2012 12:34 PM

    And Goodell should hand the judge the section of the CBA that says otherwise, and say no.

  11. miles58a says: Oct 25, 2012 12:39 PM

    The CBA which Goodell agreed to also says that Goodell CAN NOT suspend them without PROVIDING evidence.

  12. cwwgk says: Oct 25, 2012 12:42 PM

    Perhaps only those with legal training can comprehend how outrageously moronic is this request by the NFLPA.

  13. heroofthisparish says: Oct 25, 2012 12:42 PM

    This is a deliberately nonsense argument and nothing more than a delaying tactic.

    Knowing that neither side will ever cede to the other sides proposed arbitrator just means that the appeal hearing will never happen, thus the players will never have to serve any suspension because the appeal will remain in flux forever.

    Just let Berrigan have her moment and get this before the circuit courts where her decision will, quite likely, be overturned.

  14. bakaduin says: Oct 25, 2012 12:43 PM

    Lack of proof? Anyone with half a brain can watch the Vikings/Saints game and see that they were gunning for Favre after the whistle. The only argument is how much money changed hands. While a player like Fujita probably deserves to not be suspended it is obvious Vilma should be.

    Who had the most to lose in this whole situation? The coaches. If they blow the whistle they lose likely further employment. They didn’t put up the fight.

  15. jonnydapat says: Oct 25, 2012 12:44 PM

    These players are egomaniacs, they want their cake and to eat it too. Wonder why so many of them go broke ? They agreed to the cba, and now want to change the agreement after the fact. How about the league try to change the concessions they gave to the players in the last negotiations.

  16. daveman8403 says: Oct 25, 2012 12:56 PM

    Lack of proof? Anyone with half a brain can watch the Vikings/Saints game and see that they were gunning for Favre after the whistle. The only argument is how much money changed hands. While a player like Fujita probably deserves to not be suspended it is obvious Vilma should be.

    Who had the most to lose in this whole situation? The coaches. If they blow the whistle they lose likely further employment. They didn’t put up the fight.

    ——————————————————————–

    Who did Vilma injure? Anyone who has a brain could go back and watch the game and see that Brees was getting hit late also, JUST LIKE FAVRE. Most of the “late” hits on favre were very questionable. The defense hit him as he was releasing the ball. Do you know anything about momentum? No one was aiming for favre’s ankles. get real, and get over it.

  17. heroofthisparish says: Oct 25, 2012 1:01 PM

    The CBA which Goodell agreed to also says that Goodell CAN NOT suspend them without PROVIDING evidence.

    —————————–

    Arguably, there is plenty of evidence. What I see as the real issue is the quality of such evidence and how Goodell preferred to place weight on different pieces of evidence.

    Just because many think that Goodell relied on the wrong evidence because they prefer a different version of events (i.e. the players testimony as opposed to Williams and the snitches evidence), that does not mean there is no evidence.

  18. dryzzt23 says: Oct 25, 2012 1:04 PM

    Using NFLPA logic….and using examples that liberals/proggies would identify with…this could happen:
    Brad and Angelina enter into a prenup contract that BOTH signed and both knew the parameters of. Angelina decides that she likes to mess around and goes ahead and messes around on Brad. Once Brad discovers this he informs her that she has violated the prenup and she will be punished summarily for her actions (which she took even though she KNEW she was in violation).
    Angelina says “Oh you can’t punish me b/c I will cry and complain and expose things to the media blah blah”. She then hires famed liberal attorney Gloria Allred and has her file a lawsuit in civil court to prevent her punishment saying that Brad has no legal standing to punish her, thus circumventing any family court.
    When asked whether she cheated Angelia says “I cannot confirm nor deny the accusation”, which in essence means she did it but she won’t admit it. When asked why her and Brad won’t settle this in family court even though it is specified in the prenup that she voluntarily signed she says “Wah wah um b/c I don’t want to that’s why. Why can’t I have my way, can’t you all see me pouting and carrying on like a petulant 5-year old?”

    I am on the owners side in this 100%.

  19. clickablecontent says: Oct 25, 2012 1:07 PM

    Ridiculous. I’ve never heard of a company being required to have a 3rd party arbitrate employee discipline. Sure, players can file suit but how can the NFL possibly enforce safety discipline if it has to defer to a 3rd party like the NFLPA wants?

  20. goodellgate says: Oct 25, 2012 1:11 PM

    Funny how you all point out to the CBA when Goodell is the only one who don’t respect it. Do I need to remind you why the suspensions were canceled ??

  21. honeybadger14 says: Oct 25, 2012 1:15 PM

    For drama sakes I’d like 3 arbitrators. Greg Williams/Vilma’s Mom/Tagliabue all sorting through this.

  22. daveman8403 says: Oct 25, 2012 1:20 PM

    heroofthisparish

    well i do know that there only credible evidence is the affidavits from williams’ and cerullo. problem is they contradict each other. One affidavit from a coach trying to get back into the league, and one from a fired coach who pledged revenge. Why won’t the NFL agree to have them testify, as the accused have asked?

  23. kattykathy says: Oct 25, 2012 1:27 PM

    clickablecontent says: Oct 25, 2012 1:07 PM

    Ridiculous. I’ve never heard of a company being required to have a 3rd party arbitrate employee discipline. Sure, players can file suit but how can the NFL possibly enforce safety discipline if it has to defer to a 3rd party like the NFLPA wants?

    ************************************

    Most union contracts at fortune 100 employers have a 3rd party available as the last grievance stage regarding most management/union grievance disputes

  24. twisteditoff says: Oct 25, 2012 1:28 PM

    only right thing to do is have the judge recuse herself also then

  25. purplengold says: Oct 25, 2012 1:28 PM

    Let the evidence be shown to the public.

  26. gtodriver says: Oct 25, 2012 1:36 PM

    @goodellgate

    Goodell has been very faithful to the CBA. It’s certain players and the NFLPA that are constantly trying to not follow the agreement.

    And the suspensions weren’t “canceled” they were just sent back to Goodell because of a minor technicality.

    The suspensions have been adjusted and reissued.

    In the near future they will be implemented.

    Just as it states in the CBA.

  27. cliffordc05 says: Oct 25, 2012 1:37 PM

    It is amazing to me that NFL players continue to pay good money to a bad lawyer like Kessler.

  28. thestewman3 says: Oct 25, 2012 1:52 PM

    Again, where is Tom Benson is all this. If these is just a snow job then the owner and coaches are all in on the “conspiracy”.

    .

  29. addmack24 says: Oct 25, 2012 1:55 PM

    gtodriver says:
    Oct 25, 2012 1:36 PM
    @goodellgate

    Goodell has been very faithful to the CBA. It’s certain players and the NFLPA that are constantly trying to not follow the agreement.

    And the suspensions weren’t “canceled” they were just sent back to Goodell because of a minor technicality.

    The suspensions have been adjusted and reissued.

    In the near future they will be implemented.

    Just as it states in the CBA.

    ================================
    It also states in the CBA that the players are guaranteed a fair process, this has been nowhere close to being fair and impartial. Goofell is covering the owners in the pending lawsuits this has nothing to do with bounties that didn’t exist in the first place. Sure there was a player pool going on but that is also stated in the CBA that you can’t suspend a player for that infraction only fine them so the NFL is wrong no matter how you look at it.

  30. mvp43 says: Oct 25, 2012 2:09 PM

    Okay- Let throw out a name for the arbitrator:

    Frank Caliendo

  31. hor2012 says: Oct 25, 2012 2:20 PM

    daveman8403
    Why does scott get a pass. I guess you’ve got more in common with him then you have with Vilma

  32. marthisdil says: Oct 25, 2012 2:43 PM

    kattykathy says: Oct 25, 2012 1:27 PM

    Most union contracts at fortune 100 employers have a 3rd party available as the last grievance stage regarding most management/union grievance disputes

    ************************************

    and the NFLPA didn’t make that a requirement in the CBA, thus, they shouldn’t get one. Which is what we’re all saying.

    Also note the word “most” in your response.

  33. heroofthisparish says: Oct 25, 2012 3:17 PM

    daveman8403

    I agree, it doesn’t look good on the face of it, but we have to remember that this is an employment discipline hearing not a criminal/civil hearing (yet anyway).

    Also, nowhere in the CBA does it require either party to produce or compel witnesses to attend to give oral evidence. Neither does the CBA mention if either parties witnesses can be cross-examined even if they are in attendance. (this is just more examples of the NFLPA drafting the CBA poorly and with a lack of foresight IMO)

    However, I think that it is time for the NFL to just produce the witnesses as requested and make this distraction go away… and they should probably do this in return for acknowledgement of Tagiabue as arbitrator by the NFLPA and Vilma.

  34. gumerk says: Oct 25, 2012 3:19 PM

    To everyone parroting the same mantra “They should have never signed and agreed to the CBA, take your punishment like men!,” when one party of the CBA attempts to UNDERMINE it, that’s against the law!

    goodell and the nfl have attempted to undermine the CBA as evidenced by their Mosaic of inconsistencies that has been widely reported.

  35. daveman8403 says: Oct 25, 2012 3:21 PM

    hor2012

    What are you talking about? Are you talking about Fujita? What is he getting a pass for? When did I give someone a pass?

    That brings me to another point though. Goodell claims these punishments were being warned and continuing the “oh so malicious head hunting” program. If that is true, why is Fujita punished at all? he was no longer with the saints after 2009 and the “warning”. Also, when did the league ever “warn” the players.

  36. gtodriver says: Oct 25, 2012 4:06 PM

    addmack24 says:

    It also states in the CBA that the players are guaranteed a fair process, this has been nowhere close to being fair and impartial. Goofell is covering the owners in the pending lawsuits this has nothing to do with bounties that didn’t exist in the first place. Sure there was a player pool going on but that is also stated in the CBA that you can’t suspend a player for that infraction only fine them so the NFL is wrong no matter how you look at it.

    __________________________

    Can you please decipher that unbroken string of nonsense???

    The NFL is the only side that is willing to abide by the CBA that both sides agreed to.

    Just because you and the players don’t like the result, doesn’t mean the process has not been fair.

    The players are being suspended for conduct detrimental to the league.

    Based on their continued attempts to circumvent the CBA – an additional suspension for further conduct detrimental to the league is probably in order.

  37. gtodriver says: Oct 25, 2012 4:11 PM

    gumerk says:

    To everyone parroting the same mantra “They should have never signed and agreed to the CBA, take your punishment like men!,” when one party of the CBA attempts to UNDERMINE it, that’s against the law!

    ________________________________

    The only parties of the CBA that are attempting to “UNDERMINE” or circumvent the formally approved and voted on written agreement are the players and the NFLPA.

    It’s not against the law as you claim, but it sure is an ethical way to conduct business.

  38. daveman8403 says: Oct 25, 2012 5:54 PM

    gtodriver

    a federal judge does not see it that way. the CBA states that a fair appeal must be given. It was far from that. That UNDERMINES the CBA.

    Ethical way to conduct business?! You mean not formally accusing players, then letting them know they are accused and suspended on ESPN? Or claiming they were suspended for being warned and continuing when 2 players weren’t even on the team after the “warning”? refusing to show any evidence and claiming to have thousands of pages? Then when “evidence” is shown it is shown to be false, not accurate, or miss-characterized? I could go on, like how Goodell is being hypocritical by coming down on player safety and still pushing for conditions that directly contradict that, but I digress.

    ETHICAL WAY TO BUSINESS? HA!

  39. addmack24 says: Oct 25, 2012 5:55 PM

    gtodriver says:
    Oct 25, 2012 4:06 PM

    Can you please decipher that unbroken string of nonsense???

    The NFL is the only side that is willing to abide by the CBA that both sides agreed to.

    Just because you and the players don’t like the result, doesn’t mean the process has not been fair.

    The players are being suspended for conduct detrimental to the league.

    Based on their continued attempts to circumvent the CBA – an additional suspension for further conduct detrimental to the league is probably in order.

    ===============================

    If you need me to speak to you like an elementary student I will be happy to oblige.

    1) The NFL’s process has not been fair. Evidence is mostly hearsay with no solid proof of anything. The CBA says it has to be a fair process Goodell, contrary to what most believe isn’t above the law he can’t just say because I feel like it.

    2)This has nothing to do with bounties, it is all PR so the NFL can say they care about players and reduce the money that they have to pay out for the concussion lawsuits.

    3)Pay for performance pools as described in the CBA states that you can’t suspend players for violating this rule, you can fine them however.

    4)None of the evidence adds up to the punishments.

    Keep drinking the koolaid and please refrain from making a fool of yourself.

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