Last week was quite a week for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. He unilaterally instituted a new personal conduct policy, and arbitrator Harold Henderson upheld Goodell’s initial punishment of Adrian Peterson, who will be suspended until at least April 2015.
Given the one-sided nature of those announcements, what exactly is the future of the relationship between the commissioner and the NFLPA?
“We’re sort of back to where we were in 2006,” MMQB writer Andrew Brandt said on The MoJo Show. “Through all this discussion of union, and overreaching, and judge, jury and executioner, and the Ray Rice rebuke and the Bounty case rebuke, we really are at the same place. And that place is ‘Roger Goodell, The Conduct Commissioner.’ And when we look back in 30 years on commissioner Goodell, I think that’s the first thing that’s going to come to mind – and maybe the last thing. He has made it a priority from day one to be the arbiter of player conduct. He thinks players should hold themselves to a high standard. It’s a personal issue, and frankly, it’s a power issue – and (that) power has been wielded first on Gene Upshaw and now on DeMaurice Smith.”
Brandt was not surprised that Henderson upheld Goodell’s suspension.
“There (were) low odds for Adrian Peterson,” Brandt said. “Now, they had a good result, the union did, with the Ray Rice case. But the reason that Roger Goodell was not the arbitrator is because he was a witness. So he wisely deferred to someone that was independent, and the union got their hopes up that this could actually be a result that happens a lot. But we’re back to where we were.”
Brandt was also not a fan of the new personal conduct policy, which in many ways doesn’t feel that new.
“It puts us exactly where we (were) with the appeal-hearing officer still in place as Roger Goodell – or someone he appoints,” Brandt said. “So nothing’s really changed.”
On the one hand, that’s surprising, as Goodell was rumored to be on the hot seat for much of the summer and fall. On the other hand, it’s not at all surprising, as Goodell is beloved – by his bosses.
“He is backed by ownership,” Brandt said. “Everyone that says he’s in danger of losing his job? No. The people who matter – his bosses, the owners – like him and trust him and like the fact that business is booming and like the fact that he takes the hits for them.”
Smith, meanwhile, has come under fire from several players, but you have to remember: the NFL always has leverage over the union. Why? Because the NFL knows that the players would never sit out an entire season to get what they want.
“So yes, (Smith has) had some trouble getting what he wants out of the NFL, but there’s hope,” Brandt said. “We got a drug policy done, we have HGH testing, they got what they wanted out of this drug policy – so there is hope. Let’s see what happens down the line. But one thing we have to say about this collective bargaining agreement is there’s no out. The NBA, the NHL – they have outs after four, five, six years. There are no outs. This CBA is in place until 2020. Whether either side likes it or not, there’s no way to get out. It’s a rock-solid, 10-year deal, so they’re kind of stuck with it.”