For Riley Cooper discipline, CBA nuances don’t matter


Several debates and tweets and articles have popped up regarding the disciplinary options available to the NFL and the Eagles regarding receiver Riley Cooper.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement gives the league and the team different but potentially overlapping powers regarding fines and/or suspensions.  The NFL has exclusive jurisdiction over drug violations, PEDs, and personal conduct.  The organization may fine or suspend a player for conduct detrimental to the team.

In this case, the Eagles opted to fine Cooper.  The NFL opted to take no action.

Commissioner Roger Goodell explained to ESPN Radio on Thursday that the league doesn’t impose punishment when the team has done so.  But the league easily could have trumped the team’s discipline, if the league thought the team didn’t do enough.

More importantly, the issues of jurisdiction and fairness and severity go out the window when, as in this case, the player makes clear that he’s willing to accept the consequences of his conduct.

Sure, the NFLPA could file a grievance against the player’s wishes, but the NFLPA rarely forces the player to seek relief he doesn’t want.  Last year, for example, the Steelers suspended defensive lineman Alameda Ta’amu after his DUI-related arrest.  The NFLPA didn’t file a grievance alleging that the team was infringing on the powers of the league office (and it was).  The player, we were told at the time, didn’t want to fight it.

As a practical matter, the Eagles, the NFL, or both could punish Cooper, and Cooper would have had to want to fight the sanction in order to prevail.

Also, despite some suggestions that the Eagles couldn’t have cut Cooper, the Eagles easily could have made the move — and it would have been hard for Cooper to prevail on a grievance.  Under Paragraph 11 of the Standard Player Contract, the team may cut any player “if [he] has engaged in personal conduct reasonably judged by Club to adversely affect or reflect on Club.”

Of course, the Eagles didn’t cut Cooper because they need Cooper.  If Cooper were at the bottom of the roster, chances are he already would have gotten a letter explaining that he has violated Paragraph 11 of his contract.

To summarize, the labor deal sets forth various things the league and the team can and can’t do.  But if the player isn’t inclined to fight, the league and/or the team can pretty much do whatever they want.

And that’s pretty much the case in any setting.  Legal and other rights get violated all the time.  Unless the person affected by it has the will to take action, nothing can be done.

24 responses to “For Riley Cooper discipline, CBA nuances don’t matter

  1. They should fine players who swear … seriously swearing at someone is a lot worst then calling them a name.

  2. The last player to receive this number of PDT posts in a single day was Aaron Hernandez. Forgive me, but Cooper’s use of the n-word pales in comparison with murder.

  3. 80 years ago ALL black people couldnt understand why they werent allowed to do ANYTHING whatsoever, especially in the same area as white people

    In 2013 white people are losing their mind because the only thing they have ever been asked not to do, is use the word N____

  4. why did shaquille O’Neil her a pass when he made fun of yao mings language and culture in front of a camera and all cooper did was repeat a word that is in most rap songs. so it is OK to make money off of white people who buy the albums or songs but the guy makes one comment and he should lose his job?

  5. Maybe Cooper and Paula Deen can get a cooking show together. Seriously though, why is this such a big deal? There are more obscenities in DeSean’s “rap” video than this incident. He said it, move on. Get over it.

  6. I don’t agree with Whitlock very often but what he said on Rome today is becoming true.

    He said something to the extent that it wouldn’t be a big deal in the locker room unless the media continues to cover it and make it a big deal by asking questions/writing stories.

    Well, old Florio here has found his next soap box and seems determined to make it an issue.

  7. Whether you agree with his idiotic opinion or the choice of words he used, we still live in a country where everyone gets the right to choose what they believe in. Whether you like it or not. Disciplined for having an opinion? Seriously? Whether it’s a disgusting opinion does not matter.. anymore than listening to some white trash klan rally in the middle of some southern city every day of the year. Unfortunately, ignorance is abundant in this country… it’s just like George Carlin used to say..”They are just words” it is not the word itself that is bad, it is the ignorant thoughts behind the word. I’ll be George is rolling over in his grave right now watching the idiocy of trying to draw and quarter a guy over having his own opinion and being stupid enough to say it in public. Do I think that people that use that word on a regular basis are idiots? Yes I do. Do they have the right to believe their mistaken beliefs? Yes they do. Just as I have a right to believe the Raiders are going to surprise everyone until I see them at 1-8. Mistaken, stupid, but entirely my right to believe it.

  8. Not just the will to fight, but also the ability (money, connections, time, and other resources).

  9. If the Eagles cut Cooper, they immediately lose my 50 years of fandom.

    Given what happened outside the stadium (that NOBODY is reporting on) its understandable.

    But the outraged liberal media strikes again. We all have to be outraged about something.

    I dont say what he said is a bad thing, but there is entirely too much overreaction to one word that I hear in Camden about 300 times every day. And yes, quite a few times are in hatred from one black male to another black male

    And yes…for those wondering, I am a black male.

  10. Here’s something I learned in kindergarten, maybe everyone should take note.

    “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.”

    As for the “N” word, go download Vine — that word is used about once every 3 syllables if there is any black person on screen. I don’t think that word really has the power that it once did.

  11. Send him to diversity training. If you’ve ever been, you at least learn you don’t ever want to take it again. And maybe he might learn something.

  12. eagleswoot:

    But forget about the race issue for a moment, and just judge the player for what he contributes. Are you saying this is a good player and he’s going to produce for the team? What do you expect his stat-line to look like this year, and do you see this guy as a future Pro Bowler?

    I don’t think he’s good enough to warrant the distraction, particularly because I am not convinced he’s good enough even if he isn’t a racist. Also what has this guy ever done to support keeping him around?

  13. Can you imagine the court case if the NFL tried disciplinary actions after speaking a word(s). Would be different if NFL wasnt classified as a non-profit — a tax-free non-profit, to be more specific. This is going from hype to crazy.

  14. @thestrategyexpert

    With maclin out, the eagles certainly don’t have enough good receivers as is. Cooper is good enough to make the final 53. The distraction this brings should be irrelevant. The media is the one creating a distraction. 75% of the team is black. Think they’ve never heard the n word before?

  15. How come you only hear about this when a white person says something. I don’t care if your black or white wrong is wrong and just because your black you think you have a right to use this word WRONG. Black people today have it made compared to the old days when blacks had a right to be pissed off.

  16. A lot of you macho men who say its not a big deal using the word, wouldn’t say it to a black persons face in the way Cooper did.. You notice how he didn’t say it to anyone’s face but kind of said it softly

  17. remyje says:
    Aug 1, 2013 4:32 PM
    A lot of you macho men who say its not a big deal using the word, wouldn’t say it to a black persons face in the way Cooper did.. You notice how he didn’t say it to anyone’s face but kind of said it softly


    Exactly the point. If he was in some black guys face yelling and screaming for no reason at all then in that context I’d say yeah, that’s probably not a guy I’d want on my team. However some idiot just talking smack, you don’t get fired over that.

  18. What Cooper said was offensive and WRONG! His reputation will never be the same because of his foolish actions. But suggesting he be cut is crazy because the NFL has former and current players that have taken human life! Geaux Saints!

  19. eagleswoot:

    Fair enough and valid points. I haven’t personally scouted him in-depth enough since he turned pro to have a firm position on this, but I do know he was only a 5th Round pick and he wasn’t used very much in the past, so I ascribe that somewhat to the Eagles as them saying he really isn’t that impressive of a player.

    But yeah you are right the depth is an issue, and if they are truly confident that he can be a solid player then it is indeed worthy of giving him another shot, everybody deserves a second chance! But you as that evaluator/decision maker you better not be vouching for him as a good player unless you can win that vouch. So they better be right about him as a worthy player.

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