(March 26, 2020, Daniel Wallach, The Athletic)
Not long ago, the issue of player discipline loomed as a high-priority item for the NFLPA when it came time to negotiate the next collective bargaining agreement.
Between 2015 and 2017, the union was on the losing end of a string of federal court rulings – in cases involving Tom Brady, Adrian Peterson and Ezekiel Elliott – that reaffirmed the NFL commissioner’s broad disciplinary authority under Article 46 of the CBA, and made it decidedly more difficult for players to successfully challenge the commissioner’s disciplinary decisions in court.
In each of these high-profile cases, the federal courts upheld lengthy suspensions imposed by commissioner Roger Goodell for conduct which he deemed to be detrimental to the game (in the case of Brady), or a violation of the league’s personal conduct policy (in the cases of Peterson and Elliott), despite serious questions being raised as to the fairness of the league investigation and disciplinary proceedings. (Note: The Athletic is currently offering a free 90 trial subscription.)