by Brian Jones
On Tuesday, the NFL announced that 4 players would potentially face an indefinite suspension in relation to the league’s investigation into an Al-Jazeera report that named five players that had taken banned substances without the league’s knowledge.
The players involved are basically being strong-armed into cooperating with the NFL. I don’t think the players should do that at all. Under no circumstances should they go along with this.
The original report was filled with errors and inconsistencies and the reporter recanted 100% of everything in their report and the story was eventually pulled altogether. They apologized for doing it and for bringing the players into this and that should have been the end of it. Roger Goodell and the powers that be don’t see it that way.
Problem here is that the NFL is pursuing and threatening to suspend James Harrison (who has been extremely outspoken on the matter), Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers and Mike Neal over an inaccurate and since withdrawn story that wasn’t based on facts. This investigation by the league shouldn’t have been initiated to begin with.
This has become regular business at 345 Park Avenue as of late. Threatening and suspending players on the basis of opinion and hyperbole without having actual facts? Really? I’m personally not surprised by this at all. You can look no further than Tom Brady and the Deflategate drama for an example.
Brady was basically pursued (legally, mind you) and, yes, suspended on the basis of a Wells Report that stated that Brady was involved – or as the report said, “more probable than not” – with deflating footballs. Not to make this into a bigger debate or issue but the NFL never actually had solid, lockdown evidence that Brady was “beyond a reasonable doubt” guilty. He was suspended without actual factual evidence.
There’s no evidence here that beyond a reasonable doubt (or again, any factual evidence available) that any of these four men did anything, literally did anything. No evidence is present here. You’re going after these men, their reputations and careers on the premise that a since recanted news report that was a sham to being with. That being known now means this needed to be dropped and left alone.
Unfortunately, that isn’t going to happen. The Collective Bargaining Agreement has armed Goodell with the power to be the judge, jury and executioner – and the players agreed to it! They had the opportunity during the most recent lockout to take that power away and didn’t do it. Period, simple as that. A ten-year agreement was signed with the players’ blessing and this provision wasn’t argued or fought to have the power thrown out. This has to stop. The sooner, the better.
Goodell was allowed to strong-arm Brady, he’s being allowed to strong-arm these four players and he’ll continue to do it to others until his powers are removed or modified. Brady eventually caved and had to take his suspension and now these four are going to have to eventually cave as well. Goodell has been even more empowered by the ruling in the Deflategate case and also by a ruling in the league’s favor in the Adrian Peterson case. The deck is clearly stacked in the NFL’s favor.
No other commissioner in any of the other North American major sports has this much power. Until Goodell has his power taken away or reduced he will continue to abuse and use it as he sees fit. Enough is enough. The NFLPA and the players themselves need to get on the same page and make this happen before the next baseless situation or case comes along and Roger Goodell and the NFL rules with their iron fist once again. If that means modifying or adding some language to the CBA or taking away his power altogether, they need to do it. Whatever it takes.
Realistically, this won’t happen but they need to band together to at least give it a try. They owe it to themselves to try and make this happen. If they don’t and keep things as they are this policy of punishing players without legitimate or actual evidence will continue to be enforced. The players and the union constantly complain about Goodell, his power and how unfair he is and has been. They say they want change. Now is as good a time (and this as good a reason and cause) to step up and do something about this