The League

Peter Schaffer
NFL Agent

Peter Schaffer

Agent and professor of sports law

The No Fair League

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The days between OTA's and the commencement of training camps are no longer NFL downtime. This offseason, the careers of several high profile players are hanging in the balance - dangling at the will of no-nonsense Commissioner Roger Goodell.

As the Ginger Hammer heads off to hike Mount Rainier, he will not only have to navigate one of the toughest climbs on the planet but also determine the destinies of Plaixco Burress and Michael Vick. While, the NFL and its commissioner owe an obligation to players, teams, owners and fans to uphold a high moral standard, the current rules, agreed upon by the Players Association decades ago and reaffirmed in 2006, give unbridled and unfettered power to the commissioner. This allocation is not right, productive or fair to the employees of the NFL.

There is no doubt that Vick's crime and Burress's alleged malfeasance justify discipline of some sort by the NFL. The question becomes what is fair. In no other of the major sports have the players associations given such complete power to a commissioner to punish with prejudice. The other major sports (NHL, MLB and NBA) have appellate procedures which include unbiased, neutral arbitrators that review every significant disciplinary action by the league to determine whether a suspension or a fine is justified.

No such system exists in the NFL. The Commissioner has the power to discipline all players as he sees fit and that sanction can only be appealed to a "commissioners' delegate." This Commissioner's delegate reports to the commissioner whose job is at the commissioner s sole discretion. This is about as fair and objective a tribunal as one might have found in the Soviet Union.

What is required is the creation of an independent third party arbitrator system to review all discipline to ensure fairness, equity and appropriateness for all such actions of employees of the NFL.

By Peter Schaffer  |  June 29, 2009; 3:05 PM ET  | Category:  Michael Vick , NFL , Peter Schaffer , Plaxico Burress , Roger Goodell Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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