May 4, 2016

Question of the Week: Should Commissioner Goodell serve as an independent arbitrator when players are appealing his disciplinary decisions?

By the C|C Whistleblower Lawyer Team

Over the last week, there have been several key developments in the never-ending “Deflategate” saga that indicate the battle between the NFL and Tom Brady is far from over. On April 25, a federal appeals court ruled in favor of the NFL, reinstating the star quarterback’s four-game suspension. It appears that Brady is gearing up for additional legal maneuvers as reports indicate that his legal team has added famed appellate attorney Theodore “Ted” Olson.

NFL supporters argue that Brady cheated and therefore deserves punishment, while Brady supporters point to the NFL’s failure to properly account for the ideal gas law, a lack of independence of independent investigators, and several inaccurate leaks to the media among other claims. However, the current legal dispute no longer revolves around Tom Brady’s guilt or innocence, but rather stems from the broad powers granted to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell through the league’s collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”) with the players’ union. Specifically, the CBA grants the NFL Commissioner the right to act as an independent arbitrator in determining whether to uphold his office’s decisions.

It’s noteworthy that the Deflategate saga is certainly not the first high profile case where the Commissioner’s unilateral enforcement authority has been called into question. While the recent court ruling suggests that the Commissioner’s power is as strong as ever, the question still remains whether the process is fair.

Should Commissioner Goodell serve as an independent arbitrator when players are appealing his disciplinary decisions? Tell us what you think and vote below!

Question of the Week: Should Commissioner Goodell serve as an independent arbitrator when players are appealing his disciplinary decisions?

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