On March 23, 2007, I responded to the idea of a broad document called the Personal Conduct Policy, which has the power to suspend anyone in the NFL -- including Jesus Christ:
My question is, will Roger Goodell over-react? Will he do something for the sake of doing something? If so, then the blind leading the blind could prove disastrous. In time, players could demand more protection from the Union creating a division in player/ownership harmony.
I believed that while the document, or rule, or whatever it's called, was implemented with good intentions, it would eventually set a precedence of faulty and dynamic conjecture without a basic standard in which to rule from. Especially considering that the Bengals were quickly (and unfairly) becoming the poster children of "lacking character", I found myself ranting on Goodell all season long -- calling him Chancellor because of this unchecked level of authority that he gave himself all in the name of virtue. Back in October of 2007, I wrote in response to Johnathan Joseph receiving a surprising one-game suspension:
The Chancellor gets what he wants. A completely confusing interpretation of one's personal beliefs of "conduct", the unstable course of punishment and the document of conducting personal conduct on a dangerously lucid scale.
A few posts later, I wrote:
The confusing nature of one man's belief system of ethics and morality is enough to cause migraines to the tenth power. And the inability to view things on an issue-by-issue basis from others, is even more nauseating.
I bring this up because my long held believe that the players, as a group, will eventually have issue with Goodell's unchecked authority on conduct issues. Then today happened.
The NFL players union wants to talk about commissioner Roger Goodell's power to discipline players when talks on a new collective bargaining agreement begin, union chief executive DeMaurice Smith said, according to USA Today.
...the amount of authority Goodell wields under the conduct policy -- which was written with the assistance of NFL players and late union executive director Gene Upshaw -- has raised concerns among players.
"That's something that's very important to the players that we intend to raise," Smith said, according to the report. "You will increase the understanding of fairness if people are involved in a way that they understand why.
"If you imagined a world where our court systems were not public and people meted out justice and all you heard was what the result was, well, they might even get the decision right -- but there would be a sense that it wasn't fair because you couldn't see why things were," Smith said, the newspaper reported. "I think that same underlying philosophy is true here."
Will this be a big issue with the Collective Bargaining Agreement? On one hand, the players could refrain from having any problem with it, worried that any discontent on a rule that penalties law breakers would hurt them in the minds of public opinion. On the other hand, having too much authority weighted with a single man without a standard ruling hand, is risky and potentially controversial (depending on the issue). Either way, I don't see it causing much issue in the negotiations when portions of billions of dollars are being negotiated towards the players. But the players are having issue with it. That much we do know.