The Really Ridiculous Thing About the NFL’s Repeated Mishandling of Disciplinary Measures

The NFL gave Tom Brady a 4-game suspension for his knowledge of Ball Deflation, and for his failure to cooperate with the investigation. Brady, through the NFLPA, as filed for an appeal of the decision. Today, Commissioner Goodell announced he will hear the appeal himself, as authorized by the CBA. The first issue of the appeal is that Goodell mishandled the sanctions in the first place, by handing off authority to Troy Vincent, which the NFLPA alleges is not authorized by the CBA. For that, and other reasons, they intend to call Goodell as a witness: which he KNEW when he decided to hear the appeal himself, because it was explicitly laid out in the notice of appeal. Frankly, for him to keep the appeal, when he is clearly an interested party, is blatantly preposterous.

What’s really sad about this, is how consistently Goodell and the NFL have ignored the basic tenets of Due Process. Goodell’s theme after taking office was to protect the “shield” of the NFL, and nobody has done more to damage that shield than his continuous mishandling of disciplinary issues. Clearly, they need to get someone on board who understands legal process, because Goodell just doesn’t get it.

That’s why a Federal Court threw out the unprecedented suspension of Adrian Peterson: the court found that NFL arbitrator “simply disregarded the law of the shop”. And the Ray Rice situation was handled even worse. That didn’t even get to court, the arbitrator ruled that the league abused their discretion when they issued a second punishment on the same offense. She further found NFL’s action to be arbitrary, chiding that “the Commissioner needed to be fair and consistent in his imposition of discipline.” Ultimately, her decision indicates that the NFL was trying to mislead all of us when they claimed that Mr. Rice was dishonest to them about what happened. He told the truth, and arbitrarily punished, and Goodell lied about it. Rice probably has a defamation suit against Goodell and the NFL. The Bountygate scandal just a few years ago was beset by similar problems.

The way the NFL has repeatedly issued arbitrary and capricious disciplinary action is pitiful. That once again, they have done so, while the Commissioner is inserting himself in the process at precisely the wrong time, is ridiculous. I don’t know if the NFL owners, who are ultimately Goodell’s bosses, are doing anything to straighten him out. But they should, because he just doesn’t get it.

Step one, get a lawyer to oversee and/or set up a new disciplinary system with a semblance of consistency. Or just replace the current hierarchy. The really ridiculous thing is that they keep making the same basic mistakes over and over again.


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