August 4 letter agreement regarding lockout arrests

[Editor’s note:  Given the disagreement between the NFL and the NFLPA regarding the impact of an August 4 letter agreement from NFL general counsel Jeff Pash to NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith regarding lockout arrests, we’ve decided to post the full text of the letter.  Both men signed off on the letter.  Try to stay awake while reading it.]

This letter reflects our agreement that, except for the players listed below, the Commissioner has determined that players arrested or charged during the period March 12,2011-August 3, 2011 (the “Period”), as well as players engaged in other conduct during the Period that could lead to discipline by the Commissioner, shall not be fined or suspended for such conduct.  Notwithstanding the foregoing, any player arrested or charged during the Period may be considered a repeat offender subject to enhanced discipline in the event player is subject to discipline in the future.  In addition, the players arrested during the Period may be considered for entry into the Policy and Program on Substances of Abuse (the “Substances of Abuse Policy”) pursuant to its terms.

The Commissioner has determined that the following players are repeat offender subject to discipline for conduct during the Period:  Cedric Benson, Kenny Britt, Clark Haggans, Albert Haynesworth, Johhny Jolly, Adam Jones, Aqib Talib, and Brandon Underwood.

This letter agreement will not be used for any purpose other than to interpret and to apply the specific terms of the Agreement to which they pertain.  It may not be used to support or oppose an interpretation of any provisions of the CBA other than the interpretation expressly resolved by this letter.  This letter agreement is being entered into without prejudice to any party’s position on any issue other than those specifically resolved here.

10 responses to “August 4 letter agreement regarding lockout arrests

  1. Okay, so that seems pretty straight forward. Cedric Benson isn’t suspended for what he did during the lockout he is suspended for getting into trouble more than once.

    It’s also pretty straight forward that the league pulled one over on the union, or more probably the union chose not to defend these few in order to get a deal for the greater whole.

    I’m a union guy but I’m also a law abiding citizen with no bleeding heart for people that get arrested. Staying out of jail really isn’t that hard.

  2. Sloppy lawyering is what this is… The point being made was that the offenses during the period can and would be used against them for repeat offender status if any of them get in trouble again, but contradicts itself as well implying they could also get in trouble now. Just because one is a lawyer does not mean one can clearly articulate themselves orally or in writing…

  3. Nope – unless I can’t read English anymore, Ced (and I’m a Bengals fan) and the other 7 were already considered repeat offenders. They were not among those protected from punishment for conduct issues.

    Everyone else – if arrested – would not be punished but will have their conduct used as basis for “repeat offender” if they pull anything else.

    As a Bengals fan, i’m pretty pissed, though, that Talib & Britt get no punishment while Ced will be suspended for 3 games. Come on – unless the media got the Talib thing entirely wrong, his conduct was far more egregious than Ced’s.

  4. Hmm. The players’ association is right.

    The letter doesn’t agree that those eight guys can be punished. Rather, it reflects an agreement that anyone beyond those eight guys CAN’T be punished.

    It says that the Commissioner has determined that those eight guys are repeat offenders, and subject to discipline. But it never says that the NFLPA agreed to that position.

    The NFL will argue that the NFLPA implicitly agreed, but that agreement isn’t explicit.

    In effect, the letter locks down the notion that no one other than the eight can be punished for lockout-related issues, and punts on the eight.

    Looking at it from the outside, I’d guess that they couldn’t agree on how to handle the eight, and so entered into this letter to protect everyone else, and figured that they’d let an arbitrator sort out the status of the eight later.

    Which, it seems, is exactly what will happen.

  5. So basically the NFL and the NFLPA drafted a letter that states they do not really agree on what should happen to players who get in trouble during the “Period”. At least these guys figured out a way to play football while the wrapped up all of these “small” issues.

  6. tnsteve,

    I didn’t read that letter to be a mistake. I read the letter to be the author of the letter (the NFL) covering itself to do anything it wants and have an out.

    The NFLPA attornies should have caught and corrected… maybe they did in subsequent letters?

  7. The NFLPA messed this one up. The letter is fairly clear:

    1) It demarcates two groups:
    …a) These 8 players (who, let’s face it, need a name… the Gang of Eight… Benson’s Boys…)
    …b) Everyone else who got into trouble
    …(there is an implied third category–those who didn’t get into trouble during the Period–but that is irrelevant to the discussion)

    2) For the “everyone else” category, there would be no punishment, however the league would be free (in the future) to consider the incidents when it might come to determining if the player in question is a repeat offender.

    3) Benson’s Boys are subject to penalties for conduct during the Period. When you take all the supporting clauses out, that is what this sentence boils down to:
    The Commissioner has determined that the following players are repeat offender subject to discipline for conduct during the Period:

    Then DM Smith and the NFLPA signed off on it. The text of the letter doesn’t have to say that “The Commissioner and the Players Association have agreed that the following players are repeat offenders subject to discipline for conduct during the Period.” Smith’s signature is the agreement.

    The NFLPA really screwed the pooch on this one.
    *And* the NFL is in the wrong to punish guys who weren’t technically employed at the time.

  8. Rubbernilly:

    You’re wrong.

    If the NFLPA had agreed that Goodell had the authority to discipline “Benson’s Boys”, this sentence would have been included:

    “The parties agree that neither party shall challenge the Commissioner’s determination regarding discipline of the foregoing players.”

    Then, it would have been clear that the NFLPA was acceding.

    What the NFLPA did was this: They got protection for all their members, minus eight. And, with respect to the eight, the Commissioner stated his point of view. But they never agreed. In effect, they reserved the right to challenge it later.

    If this was a stumbling block to completing the CBA … if Goodell was firm and refused to budge … this was the right way to handle it. It allows the season to get started, and it reserves the argument for a later point in time.

    Would you rather the entire NFL season be held up over the issue of whether eight guys could conceivably be disciplined?

    The only part of your post that I think is correct is the last sentence. If the NFL wanted to lock them out, it should be forced to forego discipline for conduct that occurred during the lockout.

    So, I think Benson should win his appeal. But only against the NFL, not against the players association.

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