In the wake of Tom Brady’s suspension, the main union for NFL players vowed Tuesday to address what it believes is a huge league problem – Commissioner Roger Goodell’s unchecked power.
Last week the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) criticized Goodell for upholding a four-game suspension after Brady appealed it. The punishment against the New England Patriots quarterback was first issued May 11.
“It would be hard to imagine any new deal if there’s not a change,” Eric Winston, president of the NFLPA, told The Washington Post. “I can’t imagine taking a new deal back to the players and say personal conduct isn’t going to change.”
Goodell has the authority to hear and resolve appeals in cases involving player misconduct. Brady was accused of purposely using underinflated footballs against the Indianapolis Colts during the AFC championship game.
“We’re not against punishment where it’s deserved,” Winston continued. “There has to be a neutral arbitrator. You can’t tell me that keeping Roger Goodell in the position he’s in as arbitrator is going to win the confidence of the players.”
The authority to resolve such disputes, however, was something the union agreed to. The current collective bargaining agreement gives Goodell the power to hear appeal cases and discipline players.
“This is the system that the union helped to create in collective bargaining,” a league official told The Washington Post. “If they don’t like it, they should work to change it at the bargaining table instead of running to court every time there’s an outcome they don’t like.”
Nevertheless, this is not the first time Goodell’s authority has been questioned. Back in 2012, players for both the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens condemned Goodell for being a puppeteer and dictator, according to ESPN. The players from the two division rivals objected to the fines and suspensions being imposed for helmet to helmet contact.
According to The Associated Press, the Patriots were also fined $1 million and lost a pair of draft picks. After the AFC championship, the Patriots went onto beat the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl. The union has filed a federal lawsuit to challenge the appeal rejection.
The Patriots will begin regular season play against the Steelers Sept. 10.
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