Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Roger Goodell's power play

Recently, the High Lord and Commissioner of the National Football League handed down a new set of rules regarding player misconduct. This was done in conjunction with the unanimous approval of all 32 NFL franchise owners. A boffo victory for the Commish, the teams, and mankind in general has taken another step forward -- right?

Not so fast. Turns out, there's that pesky bunch sometimes referred to as the actual players, and they have a union to represent them. It further turns out that neither the union nor players have any idea what these new rules are. They weren't consulted.

And that's going to be a problem.

Like another certain "chief executive" has learned (or soon will), attempting to rule from on high by fiat, especially when they're "contractually" bound to involve others in the process, is likely to highly incense such others. In other words, there's going to be some serious blowback.

Granted, Goodell's policy on player misconduct has been all over the map. It definitely needed clarifying. Few would doubt that some recent cases of "misconduct", Ray Rice in particular, have heightened awareness amongst the public.

But even that case was botched by Goodell. First it was a 2 game suspension. "Upon further review" (see the infamous elevator video), the suspension became "indefinite". Roger the dodger claims that during all those months, when everybody and their uncle had access to the tape, it was somehow denied to the NFL offices, hence him changing Rice's penalty when he finally saw it. As even more information continues to leak out, particularly emails, it appears the good Commish hasn't been exactly forthcoming. To boot, such an action by Rice, even with video, would normally result in a 6 game suspension, per the Collective Bargaining Agreement. So again, Goodell and his minions were all over the map on this case. It's little wonder a neutral arbitrator finally kicked the league to the curb and reinstated Rice. If management is making up the rules as they go along, does it sound logical, much less fair, they should be allowed to arbitrarily impose them upon the workers, depending on which way the politically correct wind is blowing at the time? I think not, especially when said employees are represented by a union.

Goodell and the owners can "legislate" all the new rules they want, but until the players and their union sign off on them, it's little more than sound bytes and worthless pieces of paper. Certainly not binding. And as mentioned above, the people these new rules apply to have yet to see them, let alone having been consulted with along the way.

The owners likely don't care. For the most part, they're reclusive billionaires that hire a "front office" to tend to the day-to-day operations of their high-priced toy. But Roger Goodell is their collective front man, and he should know better.

When a management/union/contract exists, you can't just start changing things unless they are negotiated with, and agreed to, by the other side. No neutral arbitrator or judge in the land would uphold such heavy-handed shenanigans. Worse yet, by attempting to do so, it poisons the well in future negotiations. People are going to be pissed, and rightfully so.

For supposedly being such a smart guy, Goodell can sure act dumb sometimes. This latest gambit is going to come back to bite him in his blond, blue-eyed posterior.

But maybe this is what happens when a guy makes $11.6 million in 2011, $29.5 million in 2012, north of $44 million in 2013, and nobody knows what his final figure will be for the 2014 season. At that rate, $60 million certainly isn't out of the question. Even if $64 million, do the math. That's two million bucks per owner. Chump change. They pay offensive linemen you've never heard of more than that every year.

Goodell has the poshest of offices, tailored suits, flies on deluxe private jets, stays in 5 star hotels, and has a legion of assistants and lawyers at his disposal. And we're in an uproar about raising the minimum hourly wage a buck or two per hour for people that work their butts off in sweat shops every day catering to our whims? Something is wrong with this picture.

No wonder he thinks he's above it all.

But it's only the opening salvo of the latest round. The union (and players) will weigh in eventually, once they learn what the new rules are supposed to be. And that will likely get ugly.

Wouldn't it have been a lot simpler, not to mention legal, logical, and fair to include them in the process in the first place?

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