NFLPA to Review Bounty Findings With NFL Next Week

Jim Trotter of SI.com reported Saturday night that the NFL players' union will meet with the league next week in regard to the bounty investigation findings:

The NFLPA has accepted the league's invitation to meet next week in New York to review additional confidential findings in the bounty scandal involving Saints coaches, management and players.

As to who will be in this meeting, when it will happen, and what exactly they will be able to review, the article is a bit light on these items (light as in these items are nonexistent in the piece), but this doesn't mean the Trotter article is totally worthless, so make the jump for the highlights of relevance.

One such highlight occurs in the second half of the article's lead paragraph...

However a source familiar with the situation said the union still might not recommend specific discipline for players allegedly involved in the illegal pay-to-injure program, even if there's concrete evidence they were involved.

Hmm, ok. But why exactly would this matter in the big picture, and what message would they be trying to send to Roger Goodell by doing so? I would think Goodell would do what he sees fit regardless of any recommendations the NFLPA might make.

In the second paragraph, we get a bit on what the NFLPA's goal is in this process.

"We haven't ruled out anything," said George Atallah, the NFLPA's assistant executive director for external affairs. "Right now we are focused on obtaining the right information and making sure players have a fair due process."

Then, Trotter mentions Goodell wanting NFLPA input before sanctioning any players, a fact of which I was not aware as I hadn't read anything about why he was waiting on the player sanctions...

However Goodell has yet to sanction any players because he wants input from NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith.

After reviewing some stuff we all pretty much already know, he points out a way the union has tried to protect players (although it seems to be coming a bit late to me).

...on Friday the NFLPA, with the backing of outside counsel, instructed the league to no longer interview players unless there was a union rep in attendance.

And then in his closing, Trotter alludes to where this is heading, in the grander scheme of things:

While it is clear that players will be suspended and fined -- Goodell has the authority to do so even without a recommendation from the union -- it's also clear that this is the early rounds of a bigger fight. The union has great concerns about the disciplinary powers of the commissioner's office over issues such as the bounty scandal and performance enhancing drugs, and likely will fight to have an independent arbiter who'll oversee such matters in the future. Currently, appeals involving off-field issues are handled by the commissioner. From a player perspective, it has never made sense for cases to be appealed to the same person who handed out the initial punishment.

But I'd imagine Goodell will want nothing to do with an outsider arbiter, so we'll see what happens there. How much leverage will the players have in that fight? Seems to me that won't be up for discussion until the next CBA is due.

* * *

So, seemingly, the NFLPA gets a "seat at the table" in respect to the player sanctions, but will it really make a difference? I bet Goodell will want it to appear that way, but not actually let them have any significant input. Is this anything more than lip service to "due process" and players' rights? All the power still rests in Goodell's hands, I believe.

What are your thoughts, true believers? Is this anything?

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