(By H. Darr Beiser, USA TODAY)
(PhatzRadio / USA Today) — The NFL Players Association has filed a grievance against the NFL which challenges Commissioner Roger Goodell’s authority to suspend the current and former New Orleans Saints who participated in the team’s bounty program.
Andrew Brandt reports the NFLPA complaint makes the following claims:
1. Conduct prior to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement – August 4, 2011 – is not subject to discipline by NFL.
2. That only the CBA “System Arbitrator” (Stephen Burbank), not the Commissioner, should be able to punish the players because allegations of non-contract payments fall under Burbank’s authority under the new CBA.
3. That even if the first two are somehow not controlling, the appeals should be handled by Art Shell/Ted Cottrell, the pair appointed by the NFL and NFLPA to judge appeals of punishments for “conduct on the playing field with respect to an opposing player or players.”
Profootballtalk.com reports the NFLPA actually filed two grievances, which addressed the above listed complaints.
“The bigger issue is, is this a commissioner issue or a system arbitrator issue?” Brandt said on ESPN’s SportCenter. “The NFLPA is trying hard to take this out from under Goodell.”
PHOTOS: Bounty scandal in pictures
Back in August, the NFLPA signed off on a CBA which gave Goodell sole authority over penalties and appeals for off-field player conduct.
On May 2, Goodell suspended current Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma for the 2012 season, former Saints defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove (now with the Green Bay Packers) for eight games, Saints defensive end Will Smith for four games, and former Saints linebacker Scott Fujita (now with the Cleveland Browns) for three games.
When the punishments were handed down, NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith promised to “vigorously protect and pursue all options” on behalf of the players. He and Vilma said the league has not produced any evidence to support its ruling.