Goodell may be stripped of player discipline power (it's about time)

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has held onto his job this long because he makes a lot of money for his bosses, the NFL's 32 owners. But there are a number of tasks he has failed miserably at, one being player discipline, and that part of his job description may soon be taken away from him.

The NFL and NFLPA are moving toward an agreement that would effectively strip Goodell of all off-field discipline decisions, players union executive director DeMaurice Smith told the Wall Street Journal (subscription). It would be an astounding reduction in power for Goodell, who has alienated players with arbitrary decisions on discipline and has botched several high-profile cases, notably the Ray Rice domestic violence incident. He also took liberties in the Tom Brady/"Deflategate" saga, which is still being appealed.

Brian McCarthy, the NFL's vice president of communications, acknowledged the league's negotiations with the NFLPA, telling the Wall Street Journal, discipline "is an important area that deserves to be addressed thoughtfully and with full consideration for everyone’s interests — players, clubs and fans."

Smith told the WSJ, "We’ve been talking about changes to the personal conduct policy since October and have traded proposals. We looked at the league’s proposal for neutral arbitration. There is a common ground for us to get something done."

A union proposal calls for three neutral arbitrators serving as discipline hearing officers.

There's only one reason Goodell still has a job: He has helped negotiated television deals worth several billion dollars. Most recently, CBS and NBC agreed to pay $450 million per year combined for Thursday night games alone. But these deals and other issues come in the face of player safety issues.

Goodell and NFL officials will tell you they're concerned about head injuries but they schedule weekly Thursday games even though the majority of players and medical experts on injuries and concussions say players don't have enough time for their bodies to recover to play mid-week games.

Most recently, Goodell stepped in it during his state-of-the-league address when he fielded a question about shortening careers and an increasing number of parents keeping their kids from playing football.

"There’s risk in life. There’s risk in sitting on the couch," Goodell responded.

And jaws dropped.

Goodell has been a divisive figure for too long. If he is stripped of his power, it could be the beginning of the end for him. Because if the question is, "Would the NFL be better off with a new commission?" the answer seems pretty obvious.

Recent ramblings from the Digital Jukebox

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

About the Author

Jeff Schultz
Jeff Schultz
Jeff Schultz is a general sports columnist and blogger who isn't afraid to share his opinion, which may not necessarily jibe with yours.