George Wilson suggests player reps got bad info about appeal process

Getty Images

The ongoing rash of player arrests has caused some to argue that the situation demonstrates the importance of Commissioner Roger Goodell’s broad powers over player conduct.

Others (or, at a minimum, I) think that there’s no link between the arrests and the procedures for imposing discipline.  And that, regardless of the procedures, the current system clearly isn’t working.  And that to the extent players don’t believe a fair system is in place for processing player discipline, it will be difficult if not impossible to get players to buy in completely to the league’s overall efforts to monitor and punish player behavior away from the field.

Bills union representative George Wilson recently touched on that last point, explaining to Zig Fracassi and Gil Brandt of SiriusXM NFL Radio (via Tim Graham of the Buffalo News) that players “don’t figure it’s a just system when you’re appealing to the same judge who issued out the discipline.”

“How many judges do you know are going to overturn a ruling that they made?” Wilson said.  “They’re not going to do that.  It makes them look incompetent.”

Wilson then made the NFLPA look incompetent by suggesting that he was led to believe when voting for the new CBA that real changes to Goodell’s judge/jury/executioner powers would be made.

“The information I received and the information I had when I placed my vote was that on player discipline, a mediator will be brought in on anything over a $50,000 fine,” Wilson said.  “That was my understanding and why I voted in favor of the CBA because I felt like anything over $50,000 that the Players’ Association along with a mediator would be brought in to hash out and resolve the matter.

“Whereas now, it seems as if we’re still under the same system that’s been in place since Commissioner Goodell has taken over as commissioner.”

If that happened, that’s a real problem.  But it wasn’t a universal misunderstanding.  Steelers representaive Ryan Clark definitely wasn’t under that impression.  And his team unanimously voted against the new labor deal last year due in large part of Goodell’s powers.

All that said, Goodell’s powers aren’t unlimited.  Punishment for on-field violations continues to be reviewed by Art Shell or Ted Cottrell, who have been jointly appointed and who are jointly compensated by the NFL and the NFLPA.  As to off-field issues, including conduct detrimental to the game, personal-conduct policy violations, substance-abuse policy violations, and steroids/banned substances issues, Goodell has full power.

And Goodell (or one of his designees) will from time to time reverse an initial decision.  It happened last year, after Steelers safety Troy Polamalu was fined for using a cell phone to call his wife after leaving a game with “concussion-like symptoms.”  It has happened many times with drug and steroids appeals that remaining fully confidential while pending.  It likely will happen again.

But it shouldn’t have to happen.  Goodell shouldn’t have full power over these issues.  If he’d be willing to surrender that control to a reliable and fair third party, the players could be more inclined to embrace the league’s ongoing efforts to deal with the small percentage of players who are making all of them look bad.

16 responses to “George Wilson suggests player reps got bad info about appeal process

  1. I don’t understand what is so wrong about Goodell’s judgements. You break the rules you pay a fine. Did you know you weren’t supposed to lead with your helmet on a tackle? Yup. Did you know you weren’t supposed to drive drunk? Yup. Did you know you weren’t supposed to take PEDs? Yup. Did you know you weren’t supposed to lie about participating in a bounty scheme? Yup.

    What exactly has been so unfair to these millionaires?

  2. When are the players going to grow up and start acting like adults? With all the appeals available, the hand slapping for the first offense, the inability to combine off-field issues with on-field issues as multiple offenses, the NFLPA making sure that their own individual teams cannot, in effect, punish them, etc. etc. ……..what more do they want???? My kids were told the rules when they were growing up and if they broke a rule they were punished and I was the judge, jury and executioner and I can honestly say that my kids seldom broke any of the rules and if they did, they never broke the same rule twice. I say the courts should give deference to the CBA and let Goodell do it his way to clean up the league. I’ve seen players on my favorite team get suspended and I’m all for it. Fans have to look the actions of these players as if it were the own kids committing the act, drugs, DWI, assault, domestic abuse, etc. etc. etc…….what would you say to your kids if they were acting this way. The players want to be treated “like adults” but yet act “like kids”, I for one am sick and tired of the pampering of these childish fools.

  3. I may be wrong about this, but isn’t the best way to avoid being in an appeals process (if you like it or not) is to not do anything wrong in the first place?

    If the majority of the players are concerned with how a handful of bad eggs are making them look, shouldn’t they have no problem with Goodell punishing them- outside of them being their teammates? I don’t see any NFC South players coming to the Saints defense right now, but would they say anything if the alleged bounty system happened in their locker room?

  4. The players in the NFL are members of our society and as so reflect it. They are not childish they make mistakes like all of us. A mistake however should not be so detrimental that you loss your way of making a living forever. Punish yes, but fairly. The NFLPA did not see this during negotiations and loss sight of the target. I say D. Smith is the guy who should have advised the players of this condition in the contract. 10 years is a long time to live with this situation.

  5. the players had the opportunity to change this in the collective bargaining and they did not…they signed off on everything…so live with it and act your age and stay out of trouble…

  6. What does the appeals process have to do with these players doing dumb things and getting arrested or suspended? It has nothing to do with it what so others have mentioned already if you do something wrong you will pay the price…I learned that from my mother many years ago! Quit hammering on the appeals process and focus on the fact that there are a lot of players in the NFL that are getting in trouble and should know better. Goddell is the right person to handle this, no one else.

  7. We have only seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Goodell’s power over the actions of the league. Soon there will be microphones in locker rooms to prevent any other “mean talking” about opposing players or worse, the commissioner.

  8. If the average person was jailed for illegal drugs, dwi, spousal abuse, domestic violence, illegal firearms, assault, etc. they would deal with the justice system on an entirely different level than rich athletes. As such, when the courts got done jailing them, taking their drivers license, sending them to drug rehab, etc……they would be left to deal with the consequences of their actions with their employers……or should I say ex-employers. The company I work for is very fair and extremely generous with the compensation they pay me, but they also have a very high standard of expectations for employees behavior and if I rec’d as much as a DWI……I would be in the unemployment line and I’m ok with that. Knowing there is a severe consequence to my actions prevents me from even thinking about driving………after one beer. I value my job, my career and my family, I can’t imagine doing anything to jeopardize all of it. Warnings, appeals etc…….that’s like giving a 3 year old a “timeout” for acting up and then not enforcing the timeut. Bring the hammer down on all offenders, it is a privelege to play in the NFL and make the money they make, there should be an almost zero tolerance level.

  9. I don’t believe players are committing violations based on Goodell power to discipline them. Regardless of Goodell’s power the violations will continue. The union could have changed this but they opted to sign off on the deal for the money. Next time the contract is up let’s see if they hold out for a change in Goodell’s powers.

  10. So I think Goodell having all of the pwers is great!!

    If you know the appeal process is not going to get you anywhere or a lighter sentence then that should be a deterent.

  11. Where are these companies you guys work for that fires a person not for a conviction but rathee an arrest. Also it’s obvious some of you guys don’t know much about the criminal justice system if you think someone would serve jail time for misdemeanors such as DUI or even domestic violence. For the vast vast majority of people that’s probation. I’ve worked in white collar jobs where people received DUI, simple assualt, and other misdemeanors and still kept their jobs. It’s harder to get in the company with those convictions but if you’re already in and commit one of those infractions you don’t automatically lose your job. Especially if you’re not convicted.

  12. DUI is a societal problem, Goodell’s level of authority, or nothing else will stop it from happening. I’ve yet to see hard statistics that there is a greater incident of crime in the NFL than in society as a whole. THat makes me skeptical that there probably is no more crime. I would bet that there is less. There is no way to stop this. You just must discipline it and minimize it. Just like in society. The State doesn’t wait for the bar owner’s association to get the the non driving drunks to convince the others not to drive drunk. They just make a punish and make it more severe until the problem is reduced and contained. Again we have no proof that this problem is a growing one or a shrinking one in the NFL. Need more hard facts before we need to consider the importance of this matter, and then further what or what not to do about it.

  13. What you have with theses over paid babies is this, like the cop in Arizona having the prisoner dress in pink, if you don’t like it, don’t come back. At some point the teams need to get rid of the babies and fools, they are a cancer to any team. They sign the contract, so live with it and stop crying. Bill p.s. next they will be coming to camp with there baby bottle sucking on the nipple and wanting some one to wipe there ass.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.