Thursday, May 14, 2015

Arbitrate Deflategate?

This week, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell issued a four game suspension without pay of quarterback Tom Brady and fined the Super Bowl XLIX-winning New England Patriots $1 million and draft picks for deflating footballs during last year's AFC Championship playoff game where the beat the Indianapolis Colts 45-7. Now there will be an appeal. The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) maintains the NFL's history of inconsistent and arbitrary decisions in disciplinary matters requires that a neutral arbitrator hear an appeal. The league believes Brady's suspension is a fair punishment. An attorney hired by the league to investigate found in a lengthy report that the Patriots used underinflated footballs to their advantage and that Brady probably had at least a general knowledge about it. The report points its finger at equipment assistant and Brady denies being involved. Appeal hearings reportedly begin within 10 days of the league's receipt of an appeal. An attorney for the Patriots published an extensive online rebuttal of the NFL's findings. The NFL claims the quarterback's actions were detrimental to the integrity of the sport. The NFL has not been without controversial decisions of late. Recently, a United States District Judge vacated an arbitration award that upheld Commissioner Goodell’s discipline of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, concluding that Goodell erred in applying a new policy which was not applicable retroactively in that matter. Prior to the vacation of that punishment, an independent and neutral arbitrator, found Goodell abused his discretion when he arbitrarily disciplined running back Ray Rice for a second time. Last month, the Missouri Supreme Court even reviewed the scope of the role of commissioner in arbitration proceedings and found terms designating the commissioner as sole arbitrator unconscionable and unenforceable, being an individual in a position of bias. Accordingly, Goodell is precluded from reviewing, and ruling on the decisions of his employer in arbitration. This aligns with the trend in employing independent and neutral arbitrators to oversee NFL disputes. See more news here-- and and at the NFLPA