Despite the dramatic differences in the wages paid to their respective rank-and-file, unions like the AFL-CIO and NFL Players Association stand together on plenty of issues. As to the four-game suspension imposed on multi-multi-multi-millionaire quarterback Tom Brady, the AFL-CIO has chimed in with a document supporting him.
A federation of 57 labor unions representing 12.2 million employees, the AFL-CIO has submitted a short, four-page friend-of-the-court brief in the effort by Brady and the NFLPA to secure a rehearing of the appeal that reinstated his four-game suspension.
The one-issue filing takes aim at the simple failure of Commissioner Roger Goodell to serve as the person responsible for resolving the appeal of Brady’s four-game suspension. Instead of deciding whether NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent got it right when suspending Brady four games for being “generally aware” of an alleged football tampering scheme, Goodell found that Brady “knew about, approved of, consented to, and provided inducements and rewards” in support of the effort.
The potential for a significant difference between the initial disciplinary decision and the appeal first arose last May, when Goodell mentioned that he would consider “new information” that potentially would show Brady did not merit a suspension. Instead, “new information” was used to confirm the four-game suspension.
As PFT pointed out at the time, Goodell shouldn’t have been looking for or even considering “new information.” The question at that point should have been whether Vincent got it right by finding that Brady committed a violation and whether the infraction merited a four-game suspension.
That’s one of the main reasons why the NFLPA objected so strongly to Goodell delegating the initial decision to Vincent. The split process made it seem natural and reasonable for Vincent to take a crack at imposing discipline and then for Goodell to do the same. The better approach would have been for Goodell to make the initial decision, and then for Goodell or his designee to serve as the appeals officer, charged with determining whether Goodell got it right in the first instance.
When Goodell changed the basis for the discipline as part of the appeal process, the end result was that Brady received no internal appeal whatsoever as to the basis for Goodell’s decision. Unfortunately for Brady, two of the three judges who handled the federal appeals court case didn’t find that specific logic compelling. The challenge for Brady now becomes getting at least seven of the 13 active judges of the Second Circuit to see it his way.