The scenario is as automatic as summer replacing spring. NFL player commits alleged transgression, is fined and/or suspended by the NFL commissioner, NFLPA files an appeal.
The National Football League Players' Association, the players' union, exists to watch out for its membership. Even when a player's transgression is so egregious, the NFLPA is there with an appeal in hand.
So it was not a surprise that the NFLPA filed on behalf of New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, accused of being a major figure in the bounty scandal that has bodyslammed the New Orleans organization. The NFL says its investigation led it to several independent sources who said the Saints linebacker not only helped fund the bounty program, but offered specific $10,000 payoffs on the heads of Kurt Warner and Brett Favre.
The league suspended Vilma for the 2013 season—and to the surprise of no one the NFLPA rushed to appeal. And here's where the ice under the union starts to get a bit thin.
If indeed Vilma did place bounties, and it can be proven, the NFLPA will be supporting the misdeeds by one player against other players. It won't be player vs. management—it will be player vs. player.
I can't be certain, but I believe NFL quarterbacks are also members of the NFLPA. I'd imagine the union accepts their dues without hesitation. So if I'm an NFL quarterback/union member, shouldn't the players' association take a step back and think about protecting my back as well as Vilma's.
If the NFL indeed has incontrovertible evidence against Vilma then shouldn't the union be fretting over the safety of those players who were potential bounty targets? If there is a mountain of evidence proving Vilma's culpability, doesn't the NFLPA owe it to its quarterbacks to have their best interests in mind?
I can see NFLPA chief Demaurice Smith helping his constituency when the man is trying to keep them down. But how does he watch out for the good of the one and ignore the needs of the many?