Thoughts on the Brady Decision

By now, most of you have probably read at least 10 articles about the Tom Brady suspension being overturned by Federal Judge Richard Berman. I don’t want to bore you by rehashing what has already been written by countless writers all over the country. I will say that by just watching and reading on how Judge Berman has reacted to this case during hearings, the outcome is not surprising to me. I fully expected the suspension to be overturned. I also fully expected the NFL to appeal the decision, which they did late Thursday afternoon. Is it in the best interest of the League to appeal the ruling? I get that the NFL almost has to appeal because, going forward, if they don’t, every time the Commissioner punishes a player, the result will end up in a federal court room. In the eyes on the NFLPA, the Commissioner has basically been stripped of his power. That power was given to him by terms of the current collective bargaining agreement. With the NFL now losing five times in court recently when discipline has been handed out, it might be best for the league to hammer out a new agreement on player discipline with the players union. Commissioner Rodger Goodell is in a no-win situation. He gets criticized for being too soft in the Ray Rice ruling and for being too hard in the Brady and Adrian Peterson rulings. The criticism has been so strong that many fans have a general perception that the league is being run very poorly. While I believe that Mr. Goodell has done an outstanding job in leading the league to unprecedented growth, it is time for him to step aside in the area of player discipline. The main reason being that no matter how he rules, the NFLPA will take the outcome to court. No one needs that, not the NFL, not the NFLPA. Years ago when I was a young scout, one of my mentors (George Young) and I were having a conversation about a situation at an All Star game. He said to me, "Greg, all I know is that when it’s fourth and long you punt….it’s time to punt." That analogy could be used now. The way things have gone for the league in court lately, it is fairly obvious that it’s fourth and long and time for the Commissioner to punt. Put final say on player disciplinary matters in the hands of a non-partial, FAIR party. The only way that both the Union and the NFL can reach an agreement is if this non-partial arbitrator is agreed upon by both parties, and he is given a set term in which to rule. When he makes a ruling, it is final and can no longer be appealed by either side. The problem the league has now is that penalties have been too arbitrary. It seems as if each case draws a different punishment instead of being uniform in any way. That can no longer be the case. Penalties have to be spelled out in advance so that players know if they break a rule what the penalty for the crime will be. There is no problem with having discipline, as long as the discipline is fair and fits the crime. If that happens, we won’t be seeing the circus that has gone in the NFL the last few years. It's time to play football not live in a court room! Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe

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