Paid leave rule has one major unresolved issue

Getty Images

The NFL insists that placing a player charged with a violent crime on paid leave doesn’t constitute discipline.  Recent medical findings regarding the potential health risks of playing football could make that position more accurate than the league would care to admit; however, the fact remains that football players want to play football.  A decision to keep them from playing football based on alleged off-field conduct — even if the players still get paid — amounts to discipline, from their perspective.

The simplicity of the discipline-or-not issue obscures another point that the NFL has not yet resolved.  For many players, base salary is just a piece of the total compensation package.  From per-game roster bonuses to incentives based on playing time and/or performance to escalators based on playing time and/or performance to de-escalators based on lack of playing time and/or performance to bonuses triggered by a specific amount of playing time and beyond, much of what a player is paid hinges on whether he plays.

“That is the type of issue we would be prepared to discuss with the union if the union were interested in engaging in discussions,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told PFT by email regarding the issue of non-salary compensation for players on paid leave.  “They had no interest in discussing anything at the last meeting.”

So what’s the current rule regarding other forms of compensation for players on paid leave?

“If the union declines to discuss it, we’ll decide when it’s necessary,” Aiello said.

Aiello confirmed that the issue to be decided includes whether whether the player is deemed to have earned per-game roster bonuses, escalators, incentives, etc. while on paid leave.

The NFL wisely has avoided this topic in the revised personal conduct policy because, as a matter relating directly to player compensation, it falls clearly within the mandatory duty of collective bargaining. Apparently, the NFL is ready to engage in bargaining on the question of whether players on paid leave will get only their base salaries, or whether they’ll get more.

If the NFL plans to cling to the mistaken belief that paid leave for football players isn’t discipline, players on paid leave won’t need more. They’ll need everything to which they’re contractually entitled.

That highlights the serious issues of competitive balance that the new personal conduct policy glosses over, in the name of protecting the shield. Teams with players on paid leave will continue to have to pay players at a minimum their salaries and at a maximum everything, without deriving any benefit from the relationship.

27 responses to “Paid leave rule has one major unresolved issue

  1. So doesn’t this just end up penalizing the teams? They have to pay the guy, but they don’t get to use him. In addition, they may have to sign another player or pick up an expensive contract from waivers in order to have a replacement player. And pay that player too.

    Do the teams get a salary cap credit as well?

  2. And the only ones who suffer are the fans, salary cap money gone, no player on the field. If the NFL keeps going down this path the will lose a fan in me.

  3. A decision to keep them from playing football based on alleged off-field conduct — even if the players still get paid — amounts to discipline, from their perspective.
    ———————————

    Really? Players are told not to dress every week. It is called being inactive. Is this discipline too? Welcome to the real world. If you are paid but do not work it is called a vacation. . .

  4. Great, now I just need to pay some chick to accuse Aaron Rogers of something inappropriate and he can’t play until she drops the charges about 6 months later.

    This is ridiculous.

  5. They haven’t got a clue. They ought to be like Congress, do nothing until the last minute and still not get it right. Oh wait, that’s what they are doing.

  6. gregsmarketingnuggets says:
    Dec 10, 2014 5:09 PM

    What is taking so long on the Peterson decision? NFL dogging it to keep him out for the year

    Here is a revelation how about Peterson not beat up a 4yr old and he wouldn’t have to worry bout the NFL dogging it. But based on his lack of remorse and smoking dope while out on bond he didn’t really care anyway.

  7. whatevnfl says:
    Dec 10, 2014 5:04 PM
    So doesn’t this just end up penalizing the teams?
    ———-

    I assume this is the point – to force the team;s hand maybe? like with R.Rice, once Baltimore cut him, everything else took a back seat.

  8. For some people it’s about the money, and it doesn’t take a genius to realize AP care more about history at this point, I am 100% positive if he played this week, he would give up all salary to this point.

  9. So basically the NFL created this policy that says:

    “We have proven over and over again that we lack the basic intelligence and competence to review players legal issues. But, we find it necessary to punish players because the legal system just doesn’t do it for us. However, since were incapable of reviewing these cases and coming up with logical and appropriate discipline, we’re going to suspend any player who is charged with a crime immediately with play. Then, one day, when the court system finds said player guilty we will punish them to the max. And if the court system finds said player innocent well then, whoopsies.”

  10. mnfaninil says:
    Dec 10, 2014 5:18 PM
    Great, now I just need to pay some chick to accuse Aaron Rogers of something inappropriate and he can’t play until she drops the charges about 6 months later.

    This is ridiculous.
    _____
    Exactly. This policy is based on the philosophy of “guilty until proven innocent.” That’s why Greg Hardy isn’t playing – he was accused, lost the first step of the legal process with a bigger step still remaining, yet he was banished. Does the Constitution – you know, due process, right to a fair and speedy trial, innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt – mean nothing anymore?

  11. So what will the NFL say when an innocent player is set up by organized crime? They have made it easy to change the outcome of a team making it to the playoffs because they bet on another team before the season ….. Set up a guy with a paid female

  12. The fiscal penalty with loss of incentives due to milestones not obtained while on paid leave will need to be litigated/arbitrated or negotiated between the NFLPA and NFL………That said; it would be wise for a clause in the player’s contract be included that addresses paid leave and incentives…….

  13. OK NFL, to be fair, give all players with incentives based on playing time, awards or stats the option to terminate their contracts at the end of the season since this new policy has the potential to unfairly impact them.

  14. Most people will see it as nothing more than a paid vacation, but it is a punishment. Just not the kind they should be facing if guilty.

    Teams are punished by having a good/useful player taken out of their lineup against their will – because let’s face it, borderline/bad players just get cut immediately and no one even notices.

    And players are punished because not playing makes them unable to meet some contract incentive clauses and whatever records they are pursuing, which in turn could effect their Hall of Fame chances when their numbers just don’t quite measure up to whatever the standard of the day is then.

  15. tjacks7 says:
    Dec 10, 2014 5:43 PM

    So basically the NFL created this policy that says:

    “We have proven over and over again that we lack the basic intelligence and competence to review players legal issues. But, we find it necessary to punish players because the legal system just doesn’t do it for us. However, since were incapable of reviewing these cases and coming up with logical and appropriate discipline, we’re going to suspend any player who is charged with a crime immediately with play. Then, one day, when the court system finds said player guilty we will punish them to the max. And if the court system finds said player innocent well then, whoopsies.”
    ————————————
    Great take. But the old NFL policy was not very different than this one. What the NFL used to do was wait for due process and then punish the player based on the outcome of the court system. But since the horrific Ray Rice video created a huge backlash (thanks media) due process is out the window and max punishment to all guilty.

  16. Goodell chose the option that makes the biggest clusterf out of the situation. I for one am shocked!

  17. How about the NFL disciplines players after due process plays out? If the individual teams don’t want to deal with that player, they can cut them. Enough said. Rog is making this problem bigger, not solving it.

  18. cheeseisfattening says:

    Great take. But the old NFL policy was not very different than this one. What the NFL used to do was wait for due process and then punish the player based on the outcome of the court system. But since the horrific Ray Rice video created a huge backlash (thanks media) due process is out the window and max punishment to all guilty.

    ——

    The problem is that Goodell had the chance to stand up and say something like “The NFL is deeply troubled by the situation involving Ray Rice; however, it’s we recognize the importance of the US legal system. Our policy is to allow players their legal right to due process prior to issuing any discipline. Each team has the ability to independently issue discipline for conduct detrimental to their organization. In this case, and all others, the league office will refrain from reviewing and issuing the appropriate discipline until the legal process is resolved.”

    Say that and the NFL saves face through this entire ordeal. But Roger doesn’t have the intelligence or ability to run the league and deal with all the moving parts. Roger just wants to be the judge, jury, and executioner for every player that steps outside of what he wants. As evidenced by his insistence on maintaining the power to ultimately decide discipline. He needs to step down or be removed before he ruins the league beyond repair.

    The owners, mostly intelligent businessmen, need to realize the short term increased profits Roger is delivering is coming at the expense of the long term damage, destruction and sustainability of the league and cut the cord before it’s too late.

  19. I for one fully back the players union striking after the season. Goodell obviously thinks he can do whatever he wants… make the rules up as he goes, lie to the media/fans/sponsors and blame it all on the players. It’s time for the players, and the fans, to show the NFL that we’ve had enough of the bs. Stop ruining the game we all love!

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.