SBD/December 12, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFLPA's Smith Satisfied With Tagliabue's Ruling, Calls League Investigation "Sloppy"

NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith this morning said he was “satisfied in the ruling” former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue handed down yesterday that overturned the suspensions and fines for the four players implicated in the alleged Saints bounty program. Appearing on "CBS This Morning," Smith said, "I'm disappointed in the National Football League, and certainly disappointed in the way in which they conducted an investigation, because I now know having read and seen all of the testimony that there was certainly no evidence that the bounties existed.” Smith said as a former prosecutor, “I understand how to do investigations and the investigation that the league did was sloppy. The investigation that they did was more outcome-focused than, frankly, process-focused.” CBS' Norah O’Donnell asked whether the ruling serves to “undermine" NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s authority. Smith said, "At times when you make a wrong decision, perhaps your authority should be undermined.” CBS' Charlie Rose then asked, “Are you saying in your judgment there was no bounty at all on the part of the New Orleans Saints?” Smith: “Having seen nearly 50,000 pages of evidence and nearly 20-hours of testimony, I know that there was no bounty put on players by Saints players.” Smith added Goodell and the league should "say they're sorry, because they've maligned the character of good players." Smith: "If they certainly believe that they are right, the one thing that Roger Goodell could do is simply release the transcripts and we will all know the truth.” Tagliabue in his decision upheld the suspensions and fines for several coaches and front-office execs. Smith said the difference in their situation and the players' situation is that the players "have a union." Smith: "At a time when unions are under attack, this is what unions do. We fight and we believe that if there are times when our players are wrongly treated, we will fight for their fairness.”

ANOTHER LAWSUIT COMING: Smith also said the NFLPA today is going to file a lawsuit against the NFL and some teams because those teams "are making our players sign waivers of liability before they get medical treatment and before they get some shots." He said, "I believe that a medical professional making a player sign a waiver before you provide that player with medical treatment is not only something that is wrong ethically, but at a time when the league professes to care about player health and safety, do you think that's consistent with player health and safety?” (“CBS This Morning,” CBS, 12/12). The union later put out a statement that it had filed a grievance under the NFL’s CBA process, and had done so yesterday (Daniel Kaplan, SportsBusiness Journal).
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