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NFL, NFLPA making progress toward deal on reducing Commissioner power, maybe

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In September, Steelers owner Art Rooney II threw water on the notion that the Commissioner’s role in connection with meting out discipline under the Personal Conduct Policy and for conduct detrimental to the game would be limited, saying that adjustments would come not in months but years.

Six months later, some progress perhaps is being made toward an agreement. The headline from Monday night’s item written by Matthew Futterman of the Wall Street Journal declares that the two sides are “closer”to a deal “stripping” Goodell of his disciplinary power. The textmakes it less clear whether the two sides are actually any closer to a deal — and whether any deal is coming sooner than later.

“We’ve been talking about changes to the personal conduct policy since October and have traded proposals,” NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith told Futterman. “We looked at the league’s proposal for neutral arbitration. There is a common ground for us to get something done.”

Said NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy to Futterman: “This is an important area that deserves to be addressed thoughtfully and with full consideration for everyone’s interests — players, clubs and fans. We are addressing the subject in a serious way and will continue to discuss this directly with the union and not in the media.”

Smith said that the players would not likely agree to extend the Collective Bargaining Agreement in exchange for a consensus on this issue. But the reality is that the NFL most likely will want something in exchange for sacrificing one of its current rights under the labor deal; that’s one of the basic elements of the collective bargaining process that flows from employees unionizing.

One possible exchange would be the NFL agreeing to defer appeals of discipline for Personal Conduct Policy violations and conduct detrimental to the game to neutral arbitration in exchange for granting the league the power to impose suspensions on players who have failed to cooperate with or affirmatively obstructed NFL investigations.

That’s a possible deal,” Smith said on NBCSN’s Pro Football Talk on the day of the 2015 regular-season opener. “We believe that every player, just like every employee, has a duty to reasonably cooperate with an investigation. If that’s something that wants to come out of the league office, and they think that’s good grounds for us to make a deal, then I’ll come back and shake your hand on live TV if we get it done.”

The final outcome may hinge on whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirms or reverses the decision to scrap the four-game suspension of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, which happened in part due to the unprecedented nature of the imposition of a suspension for failure to cooperate with an investigation. If Judge Richard Berman’s decision is upheld, then the NFL would need to secure the power to suspend players for lying to the NFL or refusing to produce cell phones or other evidence, and that could be the swap the union makes in order to secure arbitration on the last remaining areas where the Commissioner has judge/jury/executioner powers.

That’s the one point to remember as the two sides work toward a possible deal. On all other matters of player discipline — on-field infractions, violations of the substance-abuse policy, and PED use — the NFLPA already has secured neutral arbitration. The protracted litigation arising from suspensions imposed on players like Brady and Adrian Peterson shows that it’s in the NFL’s best interests to develop a procedure that allows a swift, efficient, and certain outcome.

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33 Responses to “NFL, NFLPA making progress toward deal on reducing Commissioner power, maybe”
  1. trailerparkking says: Mar 15, 2016 6:26 AM

    The NFLPA has no leverage here. If the NFL decides to concede power of the commissioner then they will and it will be on their terms. Although, why would they? The NFLPA has acted pretty petty under Smith. He should have negotiated better in the last CBA…

  2. rootpain says: Mar 15, 2016 7:05 AM

    If that means Goodell would retain the right to suspend Brady for destroying his phone after being told the phone was not necessary, then that is ridiculous. Where would that end? All players have to send their used phones to the NFL for review prior to destruction? I don’t think so.
    Just fire Goodell and end the problem.

  3. theparadoxx82 says: Mar 15, 2016 7:45 AM

    It’ll never happen.

    The Union won’t give up anything worth negotiating over.

  4. sonhoodoo says: Mar 15, 2016 8:02 AM

    Why change? Why not just get a level-headed commissioner? This power has existed with every CBA and no other commissioner abused it or interpreted it in a dictatorial fashion.

  5. steelersnowand4ever says: Mar 15, 2016 8:08 AM

    Roger the Dodger just announced he is suspending the NFLPA for 4 games for conduct detrimental to the league.

  6. gtodriver says: Mar 15, 2016 8:20 AM

    What happens when the NFL office gets caught in a lie (has happened frequently)?

    Do we the fans have the right to enforce a suspension?

    We do pay their salaries!

  7. therealraider says: Mar 15, 2016 8:23 AM

    The problem isnt the power of the commissioner’s office, its the guy sitting in the commissioners chair. Goodell is single handedly weakening the position of commissioner for future generations with his gross abuse of power. when a president gets reckless we elect a new president we dont water down the powers of the presidency. Goodell should vacate the chair before the position is marginalized to secretary of the owners.

  8. jimmylikesthat says: Mar 15, 2016 8:38 AM

    Was this ever an issue with Pete Roselle or Paul Tagliabue?

  9. streetyson says: Mar 15, 2016 9:12 AM

    If Goodell ONLY had the 1-to-3 powers of judge, jury & executioner power then things would only be half as bad as now – where he is also:-
    4) a chief of police (who lets his friends off);
    5) chief of forensics (with a track record of falsifying evidence);
    6) chief prosecutor (who two courts have said ignores his CBA remit);
    7) chief witness for the prosecution (but who is also able to remove himself and any other NFL witness from cross-examination from those he accuses); and,
    8) chief of propaganda with huge financial power to influence the media.

  10. ratsfoiledagain says: Mar 15, 2016 9:28 AM

    For the personal conduct policy have a seven member panel. A former GM, two former head coaches and four former players (two each from offense and defense). Ensure the members are well liked, respected, and of sound judgement.

    As far as the deflate gate crap, I’m pretty sure Brady knew what was going on. I do not believe Brady regularly destroys his phone. And personally, I don’t care too much about the whole affair. However; the NFL has zero jurisdiction, and no rights, to confiscate/search personal property like cell phones without consent, which Brady refuses to give. I would to.

    If it was an NFL issued phone, sure, but it wasn’t.

  11. charliecharger says: Mar 15, 2016 9:39 AM

    This is music to Goodell’s ears. I’m sure he’d rather concentrate on running the league than having to discipline bad kids. Let someone else do that part, then everyone else can have someone else to blame. People just like to whine.

  12. jag1959 says: Mar 15, 2016 9:43 AM

    It is preposterous that a commissioner of any governing body can act as an arbitrator of a disciplinary action of any kind imposed by that body, bias is inherent. In so far as Brady and cooperation goes, how is it that Well$ termed him cooperative and Goodell decided he was not? Oh yeah, the destroyed phone that the league was not entitled to and were never going to get anyway. After the science made fools of them they needed something and that sure took the dialogue away from the fraudulent representations of the Well$ report. They didn’t get Favre’s phone and the issue under investigation involved sexting. A court in MN didn’t get Roger’s phone either. If it will be required that a player has to turn over their phone then you can bet it will only be to a neutral 3rd party paid by both sides with serious confidentiality requirements, look what the league did with an email about pool covers for God’s sake.
    The NFLPA shouldn’t need to lead a charge to move all disciplinary review to a neutral arbitrator, the league should just to keep Roger out of court where his lies and incompetence are regularly exposed.

  13. xilikemenx says: Mar 15, 2016 9:49 AM

    To the Fan Boy Army Goodell haters. Roger does nothing that the 32 owners don’t want him to do. Do you understand this yet? Take Deflategate, if the owners said drop Deflategate and be nice, Rog would throw Brady a parade in 10 minutes. Rog is merely a puppet, a tool of the owners. Your oh so indignant hate is comically misdirected. You may go now.

  14. tylawspick6 says: Mar 15, 2016 9:58 AM

    Arrest, try and convict Goodell of sabotage, collusion, fraud and defamation.

  15. tylawspick6 says: Mar 15, 2016 10:03 AM

    As someone noted above, ask yourself if ANY of these witch hunts for parity purposes or gross, Draconian decisions ever occurred under the great Rozelle or Tagliabue.

    This behind the scenes manipulation and framing of the league the way he and some owners want, is not really legal.

    It’s why many feel the games are also framed on the field with creepy flags coming out at the best possible times, especially for Pats’ opponents. I can name numerous games where end of game sequences featured incorrect calls or picked up flags because one of the refs didn’t the cheating memo that week from Goodell.

    Even all the rule changes are smelly. They’re all to promote offense, fantasy football use and hence, more revenue.

    Ever wonder why Jax is signed up in London for 5 more years but hasn’t moved there yet?

    Well, wonder no more. The Pats play in the AFC and a crappy franchise will never get off the ground in London.

  16. smokehouse56 says: Mar 15, 2016 10:07 AM

    I’m not so sure of that. I question that he is a puppet. I don’t think they pull his strings as a group. Do you know how hard that would be?

  17. tylawspick6 says: Mar 15, 2016 10:08 AM

    @Xlikemenx

    That is correct, but it doesn’t change the fact here is PARTY to the corruption.

    So, nice try.

    Again, Rozelle and Tagliabue had no issues.

    Goodell is corrupt and should be in jail. Think Bernie Madoff.

  18. futures44 says: Mar 15, 2016 10:45 AM

    Wait is this the same guy who stole $100 million from the players. The guy who never wins in court. The ex New York Jet who only employs ex New York Jets. Yea that’s him. Fire Goodell. and never vote for the owners during a holdout. Corporate greed.

  19. paulrevereshorse1775 says: Mar 15, 2016 11:00 AM

    xilikemenx says:
    Mar 15, 2016 9:49 AM

    To the Fan Boy Army Goodell haters. Roger does nothing that the 32 owners don’t want him to do. Do you understand this yet? Take Deflategate, if the owners said drop Deflategate and be nice, Rog would throw Brady a parade in 10 minutes. Rog is merely a puppet, a tool of the owners. Your oh so indignant hate is comically misdirected. You may go now.

    ————–

    If that is the case, then he is not doing the job the Commissioner is supposed to be doing.

    Go read the bylaws, starting on page 28. Some things to take away from the bylaws:

    – the commissioner is supposed to be someone of unquestioned integrity

    – the commissioner’s responsibilities as listed often indicate “whenever the commissioner in his sole discretion determines….”, or “If the commissioner decides…..”, or “whenever the commissioner finds….”. It does not say anywhere, “whenever the majority of owners want the commissioner to….” or “if the most powerful owners want the commissioner to……”. In addition, the commissioner is listed many times as having complete and unrestricted authority…..and that is over anyone, including member clubs.

    Bottom line is the commissioner is supposed to be someone of utmost integrity, and someone that is above everyone else, with the exception of the executive counsel in some instances.

    Goodell fits neither of those.

  20. kevpft says: Mar 15, 2016 11:02 AM

    The sooner Goodell & Vincent are gone, the better.

  21. grogantomorgan says: Mar 15, 2016 11:23 AM

    How about option #1

    The owners kick his incompetent ### to the curb.

  22. footballfanatic says: Mar 15, 2016 12:33 PM

    This is great and all, but until it’s finalized he has the power signed by the players in the CBA. Sooooooooo, deal with it patriot fans. You cant sign a paper when you enter a work place saying “The boss has x amt of power” and then when he exercises that power you say “wait, no we dont want you to have that much power.”. No matter who is commissioner we wont like what he does- he is a product of his system. “here Goodell, be fair to these 32 teams, even tho the owner of the teams are your bosses, and some (Kraft) determine your salary and have much more power than others”.

  23. weepingjebus says: Mar 15, 2016 12:33 PM

    Or we could add “Did you in fact pass 9th grade” to the list of vetting questions for all new NFL Commissioners.

  24. footballfanatic says: Mar 15, 2016 12:35 PM

    paulrevereshorse1775 says:
    Mar 15, 2016 11:00 AM

    That’s great………except you cant have owners make his salary. There are 3 owners who choose his salary- how on earth is any commissioner in the NFL supposed to be fair? If you are an office manager over 32 employees, and 3 of them got to choose your salary, i GUARANTEE you would give them benefits the other 29 dont get. The system is flawed- NOT goodell. He does what the owners want b/c they are the true bosses, and 100% the next commissioner will be the same way.

  25. browns4ever says: Mar 15, 2016 12:46 PM

    Does this mean he gets a pay cut to coincide with his reduction of duties?

  26. bigbear331313 says: Mar 15, 2016 1:07 PM

    footballfanatic says:
    Mar 15, 2016 12:33 PM

    This is great and all, but until it’s finalized he has the power signed by the players in the CBA. Sooooooooo, deal with it patriot fans. You cant sign a paper when you enter a work place saying “The boss has x amt of power” and then when he exercises that power you say “wait, no we dont want you to have that much power.”. No matter who is commissioner we wont like what he does- he is a product of his system. “here Goodell, be fair to these 32 teams, even tho the owner of the teams are your bosses, and some (Kraft) determine your salary and have much more power than others”.
    ________________________________________

    Well, right now we are dealing with what the first Federal Judge said. Let’s wait and see what the next three say before we start pounding our chests. I’m not a lawyer, but I’m pretty sure you don’t give up your inherent rights when you are part of a collectively bargained agreement. Whether 31 owners want it or not.

  27. zigthepatsfan says: Mar 15, 2016 1:09 PM

    smokehouse56 says:
    Mar 15, 2016 10:07 AM
    I’m not so sure of that. I question that he is a puppet. I don’t think they pull his strings as a group. Do you know how hard that would be?

    truth is somewhere in the middle. Yes he is basically doing what his bosses tell him but I highly doubt his bosses are telling him to lie in court every time he has to go there. If they are and he does it? He’s spineless and shouldnt be the Commish.

    and to a couple of others: The Commish having this “power” is nothing new. Didnt come from the last CBA. What is new is the abuse of said power and dart board type “justice”

  28. lscottman3 says: Mar 15, 2016 1:16 PM

    missing from this piece is that part of the deal includes Godell dropping the deflategate appeal

  29. isphet71 says: Mar 15, 2016 1:22 PM

    Makes NO sense why the NFLPA doesn’t handle all player vs. player discipline. Let the NFL handle the player vs. the league incidents.

    The NFLP always seems to sit on their hands and ask for no punishment even when one player is trying to take another player’s knees out. If you’re supposed to be protecting your players, then you should actually try to protect the players that are doing things the right way from the players that aren’t.

  30. paulrevereshorse1775 says: Mar 15, 2016 1:22 PM

    footballfanatic says:
    Mar 15, 2016 12:35 PM

    I certainly agree that the method in which his salary is determined has the potential to undermine his judgment. And in fact I think it has. However someone with integrity would do the RIGHT thing when making decisions (or at least try) and not what will make himself the most money in the end.

  31. ravforlife says: Mar 15, 2016 2:23 PM

    Judge Judy, is in the house.

  32. ravenswinsuperbowl47 says: Mar 15, 2016 2:36 PM

    There’s no reason for the NFL to concede anything under the current 10-year agreement without a quid pro quo. If the owners and Commish had some cojones, they could use this issue as a springboard to improve the NFL-NFLPA agreement to benefit all parties.

    Here’s how the NFL and NFLPA could come out with a settlement where everyone wins, especially the fans who finance the game:

    – give NFL players EVERYTHING THEY HAVE| REQUESTED, subject to negotiated penalty guidelines for the arbitrators (e.g. cheating 1st offense = full season ban, 2nd offense = banned for life)

    – in return, NFLPA would agree to reduce the season by one game overall via a 17 regular season, 2 exhibitions, two byes

    – 17th game played at neutral sites e.g. London, Toronto, San Antonio, St Louis, Frankfort, Mexico City, etc.

    – NFL mandates that the remaining home exhibition game is no longer to be sold by the 32 teams as part of season ticket plans and its price should not exceed 25% of average regular season games

    – the two additional weeks of regular season TV revenue would fund multi-billion annual domestic and international revenue increases, while the paying fans in 32 stadiums would get a price reduction and the new fans in NFL-ready neutral cities would get to see live action, without costing the 32 teams’ fans any home games

    – players have one less game overall, but paychecks go up via > 50% sharing of the multi-billion revenue increase

    – with such a great deal in place, the NFL-NFLPA agreement should be extended 5 to 10 more years

  33. jmdanieli says: Mar 15, 2016 2:46 PM

    This quote is from Sally Jenkin’s July 30, 2015 column titled ” Deflategate’s real issue: Due process” from the Washington Post.
    “Wells never asked for Tom Brady’s cellphone and didn’t require it. “Keep the phone,” Wells told Brady and his agent. He insisted his investigation was thorough without it. “I don’t think it undermines in any way the conclusions of the report,” he said. Those were his exact words. So were these, after interrogating Brady for more than five hours: “Totally cooperative,” Wells said of Brady’s testimony. ”
    So how is it that the league is saying Tom did not cooperate???

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