"He's the judge, jury and executioner!"
That's the lament heard more and more when talk turns to Bountygate and the punishments that have been handed down by the NFL's commissioner, Roger Goodell. Be it from fans, NFL players or the media that cover the league, the all-too-common refrain has gotten downright tiresome.
Folks need to remember how Goodell came to have that power, and they need to stop complaining about it.
There it was again on Monday morning, with Jonathan Vilma telling a group of reporters, via CBS News, "Roger Goodell has taken three months to tear down what I built over eight years. It's tough to swallow. I have been linked to a bounty and it simply is not true. I don't know how I can get a fair process when he is the judge, jury and executioner. You're assuming it will be fair, but it's not."
While Vilma's frustrations are understandable, whether the process is fair or unfair is immaterial. When the NFL and NFLPA negotiated their new collective bargaining agreement, the commissioner was given the power he is wielding now. Not only did the NFLPA's officers sign off on that—Vilma did. Nearly every player did (some Steelers held back for this very reason) when they ratified the CBA prior to its signing.
The players union seems to be having a serious case of buyer's remorse.
Didn't expect it to this level RT @RaidersBlog: The real mistake here was the NFLPA allowing Goodell to have god-like powers in these areas.— George Atallah (@GeorgeAtallah) June 18, 2012
I'm not sure what the union expected. One only needed to look at Goodell's body of work, from Spygate to his crackdown on violent hits, to know that when it comes to the NFL, his word is law.
All this noise about the league needing to provide the evidence to the media and the public when it comes to Bountygate is just that—noise. Goodell and the league don't have to do anything of the kind, nor should they. They are using the authority that was given to them in the CBA. Two separate arbitrators have upheld that authority. When it comes to Goodell and discipline, it's really rather clear.
So Vilma and his lawyer can call the proceedings a "sham" all they want. The NFLPA can talk about how Goodell is not following the "spirit" of the CBA (whatever the hell that means)—the fact remains that the commissioner is using powers that were collectively bargained for.