The good news? One of the major obstacles between the NFL, NFLPA, and a new drug policy has been tentatively cleared.
The bad news? At least one other big one remains.
Per a league source, a tentative agreement has been reached on the lingering-for-months dispute over the question of whether discipline for PED and hGH violations arising from something other than a positive test would be appealed via third-party arbitration or to Commissioner Roger Goodell.
The union has wanted third-party arbitration, since appeals for positive PED/hGH tests would be handled that way under the new deal. The league has preferred that Goodell to retain the power that he currently has over discipline imposed in BALCO/Biogenesis-style cases.
Per the source, a form of neutral arbitration will be used, if the tentative agreement becomes an actual one.
But now the primary impediment has become the league’s request that it be able to impose a suspension for player DUI arrests before the legal case is resolved. (So much for “due process.”) It’s a non-starter for the NFLPA, and it’s an issue the league should quickly abandon, if it truly wants to get a deal done sooner than later.
Even Colts owner Jim Irsay (have you heard that the NFL held him to a higher standard?) wasn’t disciplined until his legal case ended. While certain violations of the personal-conduct policy would be sufficiently severe to justify action before litigation has ended, first-offense DUI cases not involving injury or death should be permitted to percolate through the proper channels.
Ultimately, the player can win the case, attacking one of the various potential flaws that can arise in DUI investigations, from the legality of the stop to the implementation of field-sobriety testing to the accuracy of the breath test to other issues that could result in the case being dismissed or the player being acquitted at trial.