In our ongoing effort to keep ending weeks with the least exciting news possible, here’s another diddy pulled from the boring but very, very important file.
Earlier this week Special Master Stephen Burbank shot down the NFLPA’s first grievance regarding the bountygate player punishments. It argued that the alleged actions of Scott Fujita, Will Smith, Jonathan Vilma and Anthony Hargrove were tied more directly to the salary cap because of the extra money handed out with bounty payments. Had Burbank agreed with this, the power to punish the four players would have been ripped from Roger Goodell’s hands.
He didn’t, and neither did arbitrator Shyam Das on the union’s second grievance with his ruling issued today.
The argument presented to Das was that since the alleged bounty money was collected for on-field conduct, the resulting punishment should be in the hands of the two mutually appointed arbitrators in the new CBA (Ted Cottrell and Art Shell). The union also argued that the new CBA waives the commissioner’s right to impose discipline on any misconduct that occurred under the old CBA.
Das’ ruling in favor of the league isn’t a surprise, and it’s yet another affirmation of Goodell’s ultimate power as league commander and dictator. While the system of having the same authority figure who hands out the punishments also hear the appeals has always been odd, the man tasked with enforcing discipline in his league should be able to oversee conduct that occurs on the field that’s the result of an illegal exchange of money.
The NFLPA is appealing Burbank’s ruling, but Das’ decision today can’t be appealed. Goodell will begin hearing the appeals of the four players on June 18.