Once Tom Brady and Adrian Peterson lost their appeals in court, the NFL reaffirmed its strength when it comes to player discipline. Even if the NFL can’t prove a player did anything wrong, it essentially doesn’t matter with Goodell’s power as judge, jury, and executioner upheld by the court.
So here is a thought: maybe the NFL is doing this in a calculated manner strictly for leverage.
The NFL/NFLPA CBA has no opt-out. The players and owners are stuck with this deal for five more seasons, but there is no reason the owners would want to cave on any issues — especially player discipline. The owners are fine with the current situation. The players on the other hand may not be as happy with the CBA and player discipline situation.
Now the NFL has complete power backed by two federal circuit appeals courts. In taking the Brady and Peterson case to court — and losing — the NFLPA has actually made the league stronger than before. That is why the NFL can threaten suspension for Clay Matthews, James Harrison, and Julius Peppers for conduct detrimental to the league/non-cooperation with an investigation of the Al Jazeera PED report. There’s no reason for the NFL to stop doing this. The court already affirmed it had the power. For the next five years the players must cooperate or else. There really doesn’t need to be any wrong-doing.
There is one way out for the NFLPA and its players. Collectively bargain and renegotiate the player discipline portion of the CBA. The thing is — as we said — there is no reason for the owners and the NFL to do that. Unless . . . well unless the NFLPA was willing to give up something in return.
The easiest bargaining chip to offer would be the 18 game schedule. Any revenue split is off the table. The players aren’t giving up their portion of income. So we come back to adding two games to the regular season. The NFLPA has pushed back against the idea since it was brought up. Players already get injured enough. In their mind, there is no need to add two more games to fill the owners’ pockets at the expense of their own health. The issue becomes how long the NFLPA can stand by and watch players get disciplined — or in their mind railroaded — and interviewed over complete hearsay and circumstantial evidence.
Make no mistake about it, the owners would jump for joy over getting an 18 game schedule and sacrificing some disciplinary power. It really does make some people think the NFL is flexing its disciplinary muscle for leverage. If the NFLPA and players break and renegotiate mid-CBA over player discipline, it wouldn’t be the best decision. Salaries and game checks would be split in 1/18 instead of 1/16. The owners would make much more than they do off of pre-season games. The NFL would have won a fiscal victory without any real battles in the press or public. It’s almost as if the NFL and owners are baiting the players to do this.
The owners have no reason to change. This is the way things will be until 2022, unless the NFLPA comes with hat in hand on the 18 game schedule. If this was all done purposely, its another brilliant business move by the NFL and Roger Goodell. It doesn’t matter if the league is taking a PR hit because it’s winning where it matters most: the bottom line.