The NFLPA is "prepared to make one other attempt via federal court" to challenge NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's powers regarding the player suspensions related to the Saints bounty case, according to sources cited by Jason La Canfora of CBSSPORTS.com. If Goodell "ends up upholding his own previous decisions" on suspended players Jonathan Vilma, Anthony Hargrove, Scott Fujita and Will Smith, the NFLPA "has a legal strategy in place to attempt to limit Goodell's powers via the court system." It plans to "make the case that he should not have full authority in this matter," as former NFL coaches Ted Cottrell and Art Shell were jointly appointed by the NFL and NFLPA to review fines and suspensions levied for on-field misconduct. The CBA gives Goodell "wide berth here, and thus the court challenge may prove fruitless, but the step is likely to be taken to exhaust all legal means with frustration growing in union circles regarding the league's bounty investigation and subsequent penalties" (CBSSPORTS.com, 6/25).
FAIR OR FOUL? NFLPA Assistant Exec Dir of External Affairs George Atallah said, “For the players to have been disciplined before they got an opportunity to see evidence presented to them, that is unfair by any standard.” Atallah said the “whole process has been conducted” by the NFL “in a way that has been, quite frankly, sloppy.” But Atallah added, “Despite the rhetoric back-and-forth, one thing that’s lost on people here is that we want to work with the league to find out what actually happened.” NFL Senior VP/Law & Labor Policy Adolpho Birch countered and said the NFLPA “has itself to blame.” Birch: “The commissioner started from the beginning by offering to get input and information from the union. They declined to do that.” ESPN’s Andrew Brandt said, “I talked to NFL union officials and players that said the commissioner has jumped the shark on this stuff. He is arbitrary and capricious on conduct discipline. It’s got to be stopped” (“OTL,” ESPN, 6/25). ESPN’s Chris Mortensen said, “The NFL is confident that it did a thorough investigation and that it proves that the bounty program existed. ... I think (the NFLPA’s) feeling is by not participating in this appeal process, they don’t want to acknowledge that this appeals process is, for lack of a better term, legal and they’re going to challenge that Commissioner Goodell went outside the purview of his powers” (“NFL Live,” ESPN, 6/25).
CAUTIONARY TALE: USA TODAY's Robert Klemko notes in a seminar titled "Are You Bigger Than the Game," held during the NFL's Rookie Symposium yesterday, Eagles QB Michael Vick "told rookies to manage their own money, cherish their opportunity, and not to count on second chances." Vick said of Goodell, "If he asks you a question, answer with honesty. Tell him the truth. If you get into some trouble, be honest, truthful, forthright. Don't play with this man. He'll love you to death, but the minute you cross him, he'll be all the way turned up" (USA TODAY, 6/26).