Friday, 7 September 2012

New Sports Illustrated column: What today's bounty gate decision means for Goodell, Vilma, Payton and others

Probably not what Roger Goodell wanted to hear on the eve of the 2012 NFL season: Arbitration panel lifts suspensions of Vilma and others. My take for Sports Illustrated. Here's an excerpt:

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4) Does today's ruling mean that Sean Payton and the other suspended coaches can return to work?

No. Today's ruling does not legally benefit Payton -- or, for that matter, Gregg Williams and Joe Vitt -- because they are coaches, and do not enjoy collectively bargained protections as do Vilma and other players. Players enjoy these protections because they are members of a union, the NFLPA, which collectively bargains with the NFL for rules impacting players' wages, hours and other working conditions. In contrast, Payton's relationship with the NFL is governed by an employment contract with the Saints and which, like all coaches' contracts, contains stipulations he must accept NFL judgments.

That said, today's ruling could motivate former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who has been suspended indefinitely and whose NFL coaching career may be over, to more seriously consider suing Goodell and the NFL. While a lawsuit would be challenging, Williams could argue the NFL and its teams have essentially boycotted him on exaggerated or fictitious grounds. Given their continued employment, it is less likely Payton, Vitt and Saints general manager Mickey Loomis would seek litigation against the league.

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To read the rest, click here.

Update 9/8/2012: I was on NPR's Only a Game Show this morning to discuss the ruling.

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