Paid leave decisions are subject to immediate appeal

Getty Images

As characterized in an internal NFL memo, Sunday’s arbitration ruling in the NFL Players Association’s challenge to the new Personal Conduct Policy permits the league to use the Commissioner’s exempt list as a device for putting players on paid leave pending the resolution of their disciplinary cases. However, there’s another key aspect of the ruling not mentioned in the memo from NFL general counsel Jeff Pash to all teams.

A player placed on the Commissioner’s exempt list has the same appeal rights that the player would have if suspended without pay.

“The player, or the NFLPA with the player’s approval, may within three days following written notification [of placement on the Commissioner’s exempt list] appeal in writing to the Commissioner,” arbitrator Jonathan Marks explained in his ruling. “Either the Commissioner or his designee, appointed after consultation with the Executive Director of the NFLPA, will serve as hearing officer. At the hearing, the player may be accompanied by counsel and both the NFLPA and the NFL may be present and present evidence.”

Marks did not address whether the Commissioner is required to stay the placement of the player on the Commissioner’s exempt list until the hearing is resolved. This means that the issue will likely be resolved the first time the device is used.

If the Commissioner declines to stay the implementation of the placement of the player on the Commissioner’s exempt list until the hearing has been held, an arbitration will be conducted on an expedited basis. Possibly, the union will take the issue to court for a ruling that, until the hearing has been resolved, the player can’t be kept from playing, even with pay.

So it’s not a slam-dunk outcome for the NFL. The decision to use the Commissioner’s exempt list, which previously had provided the player with no recourse, now has a caveat. A full-blown hearing must be held, and the outcome of that hearing will be subject to a potential challenge in court.

18 responses to “Paid leave decisions are subject to immediate appeal

  1. The best thing for the NFL now would be to drop the Brady appeal and stand on the arbitrator’s decision as clarifying the power of the Commissioner’s office to enforce player discipline. They can declare victory and let the Brady debacle fade into oblivion. Somehow I don’t think the NFL will let Deflategate die which is a shame since it will taint the 2016 offseason just as it destroyed the 2015 offseason for fans.

  2. “Either the Commissioner or his designee, appointed after consultation with the Executive Director of the NFLPA, will serve as hearing officer.”

    Perhaps not a slam dunk, but an easy tip in for the league. The policy was validated by the arbitrator, and the league retains control over the outcome.

  3. Here’s my appeal…they shouldn’t be paid. The money should be set aside and if nothing comes of the issue, the player gets it back. If not, it goes in the charity pile with penalty money.

  4. Only the beginning… The NFL put their Public Relations spin on the hearing out over the weekend so all the newspapers and television outlets could eat up their version of the decision.

    Now journalists with the ability and desire to find out what the true version of the outcome really means will start to come forward..

    This is how the NFL has been run lately and it’s a shame.

  5. “So it’s not a slam-dunk outcome for the NFL. The decision to use the Commissioner’s exempt list, which previously had provided the player with no recourse, now has a caveat. A full-blown hearing must be held, and the outcome of that hearing will be subject to a potential challenge in court.”

    A long way from a slam dunk indeed. Of course with the current gang that can’t shoot straight at 345 Park Ave having “either the Commissioner or his designee” as the appeal officer preside over the appeal virtually guarantees bias and a trip to court. The league would have been better served by a having a 3rd party arbitrator hear the appeal, it removes the appearance of a rubber stamp bag job leading to another court case.

    I’m shocked the decision wasn’t the W Pash described it as, shocked I tell you

  6. “However, there’s another key aspect of the ruling not mentioned in the memo from NFL general counsel Jeff Pash to all teams.”

    ——-

    Surprise, surprise!

  7. Whats really a shame, is the NFL and public spend so much time on policies centered around discipline with impacts such a small percent of players. All the great community services the players do goes without notice.

  8. Perhaps not a slam dunk, but an easy tip in for the league. The policy was validated by the arbitrator, and the league retains control over the outcome.

    ———–
    cwwgk
    um, it used to be unilateral power for the commissioner to impose regardless of evidence, circumstances, actual guilt, or that pesky factual basis some call science. now there’s rights and recourse for the players.

  9. This is, by far, certainly a “no win” for the NFLPA or the players.

    I would expect that any player placed on the Exempt list for a probable criminal act would be strongly advised to not appeal that placement by their legal counsel.

    Any testimony they give at such an appeal hearing could and probably would be used against them when their criminal case goes to trial. No attorney wants to head into a criminal trial when the prosecutor already knows exactly what the defendant will say (or has said under oath), in an earlier proceeding.

  10. How terrible for the poor players. They commit an off-field crime. get sent home to sit on their kister for a few months WITH FULL PAY, and they cry unfair? In the meanwhile their team mates, particularly the one who fills in for them is working, and subjecting himself to career ending injuries. Yeah, unfair, but to whom.

  11. They (NFL) are ruining their game of football. However they will make a ton of money while they RULE over the game on and off the field. The players are expendable as there are 25 potential back ups for every position and the average career is less than 3 years anyway. POWER and MONEY is what the NFL is all about.

  12. Seems to me the courts are saying clearly “No Roger – you can’t simply do whatever you want – there are some baseline rules of fairness at play”

    I mean, no CBA gave Roger Goodell and the owners the right to assert they’re above the law and Constitution. Players in fact DO have rights.

    Judges can only address the question of law before them – but hopefully they are disgusted by Goodell’s brand of “justice” which, if Deflategate were a murder trial, Roger would cite the circumstantial evidence against Brady as proof of his guilt, despite the live appearance of the supposed murder victim

    This just shows how corrupt The Owners and Commissioner have become!

  13. @cwwgk

    um, harold henderson, paul tagliabue, ted cotrell, and merton hanks, and probably others i can’t remember, have all heard recent appeals to which goodell could have appointed hiumself but didn’t.

    goodell heard brady’s appeal because his grounds were so flimsy, and he (rightfully) didn’t trust designees to hold the party line.

    still, the recent trend has been to independent hearing officers for appeals, and there were very recent reports of discussion to negotiate that into the current cba.

    if your larger point is the nfl currently controls the whole process including the appeal, and the designation of hearing officer, that’s true.

    it’s also true the players got appeal rights they didn’t have before.

    and it’s true that the brady case hinged not on the punishment ruling, but on the appeal process, and the procedures and fairness of the appeal itself.

    having appeal rights is no small victory for the union.

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.