Snelling situation proves team can take action, despite CBA

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In the wake of Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe’s arrest for marijuana possession, some media outlets trumpeted (incorrectly) the notion that the team can’t take action against Bowe because the labor deal gives exclusive jurisdiction over such matters to the NFL.

And now the Falcons have shut down running back Jason Snelling for Sunday’s game at Tampa after an arrest for — you guessed it — marijuana possession.

“We are disappointed in what has transpired over the last 48 hours concerning Jason Snelling,” coach Mike Smith said in a statement issued by the team.  “Any time one of our players is involved in an off the field incident we take it very seriously.  Jason missed practice on Friday.  After speaking with him yesterday, Jason has decided to take some personal time to deal with his situation and will miss tomorrow’s game.  We anticipate him rejoining our team Monday morning.”

Technically, it appears Snelling has requested a weekend off.  As a practical matter, the request quite possibly was made at the suggestion of the team.  And Snelling wouldn’t be in position to fight it, given that his conduct created the mess that the Falcons are trying to clean up.

Snelling’s situation is different from Bowe’s because Snelling’s incident caused him to miss practice.  Still, the team technically would be limited to fining him for missing practice (up to $10,440) and/or suspending him without pay for conduct detrimental to the team.

It’ll be interesting to know whether he’ll be paid for the game, given that the game check covers not only the game itself but the week of practices and meetings and other team-related activities.  If Snelling isn’t being paid, he’ll lose $50,240.

The Falcons aren’t elaborating at this point, and it’s unlikely that Snelling will be inclined to admit that he may have gotten his arm a tad twisted into staying home this weekend.  Regardless, teams can do plenty of things in response to a player arrest; the question is whether the team wants to.

If nothing else, the team can choose to make the player in question one of the seven men per game who are paid to not suit up.  The Falcons could have done it with Snelling (indeed, he’ll undoubtedly be listed as inactive for the game), and the Chiefs could have done it with Bowe.

The fact that Snelling is a reserve and Bowe is a key starter may have had something to do with the differences in decision making.  Regardless, teams can take action if they want.