NFLPA president Eric Winston joined PFT Live on Thursday for an extended and comprehensive and enlightening discussion of a variety of issues.
Inevitably, the question of the NFL’s handling of Colts owner Jim Irsay came up. And Winston had some strong opinions on the subject of whether players and owners should be treated the same way when it comes to discipline.
“I think to me in a way there should be a higher standard for owners,” Winston said. “I don’t understand why the discipline for an owner of one of these 32 teams that hold the shield of the league is compared to a 22-year-old kid. That’s what I don’t understand, is why are we trying to compare? To me, there should be a much higher standard for an owner, there should be no doubt because I think he represents that team, and that’s what we’ve always said about the shield right?
“To me it’s not an apples to apples situation, it’s a situation where we have an owner who has unfortunately gotten into some trouble and I don’t understand why we’re trying to compare it to . . . a player. This guy is an owner of a National Football League team and to me that should mean so much more and in a way that he should be held to a much higher standard. And that’s just my opinion of this situation.”
Regardless of how it all plays out, Winston’s constituents are paying close attention.
“Players are looking very closely at this situation,” Winston said. “They’re looking and they’re waiting to what happens. I’ve fielded the calls and I’ve talked to the guys. They’re not happy with the way this system works, and they’re not happy with the way the process really works. . . . These players are going to have a very keen eye on seeing how the Commissioner deals with this and what kind of suspension or punishment, if any, ends up being leveled on Mr. Irsay.”
While Winston believes that the issue of player and owner discipline shouldn’t be an issue of apples-to-apples, he believes that Irsay’s punishment for a first-offense DUI should reflect the same formula that applies to players, who lose two of 17 game checks.
“[If] it’s good for the goose, it’s good for the gander right?” Winston said. “If you’re taking away those two game checks, then maybe . . . that same multiple moved across to fit the crime on the owners’ side.”
Again, that approach would merely ensure equivalent punishment between players and owners. Winston wants the penalty to have a greater relative impact on owners than on players.