NFL Players Association President: Time Is Now For New Player Punishment Process

| by Jonathan Wolfe

NFL Players Association (NFLPA) President Eric Winston has been outspoken in the past about his belief that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has too much power. From fines and suspensions to investigations and appeals, the buck starts and stops at Goodell.

In an interview with CNN’s Erin Burnett this week, Winston argued that the NFL’s widespread player conduct problem is not being handled properly by Goodell.

"There's an issue with player conduct,” Winston said, “And maybe it's time to take that out of the commissioner's hands and put it into a neutral arbitration process where there can be a fair process for everybody involved.”

Winston doesn’t have a comprehensive alternate system to propose right now, but he knows the current policy is flawed.

“Maybe it's a situation where he can discipline guys right out of the gate, maybe he can't,” Winston said. “But I think that's something that needs to be explored and needs to be looked into."

Winston also spoke with ESPN Radio’s “Mike and Mike” program this morning. During the interview, Winston stressed the NFLPA’s belief that players should not be punished by the league until the court system rules on a case.

"I'd let the court system and process run its course,” Winston said. “I don't want to get into a world where we're snapping to judgment, and that's where we're all the sudden saying, 'Oh well, since he was arrested before, he's automatically guilty of it.' I don't think that's the right world to live in.

"Now, who knows? There might be some crazy, outlying standard. But at the same time, I think for 99 percent of things that go on, we need to let the due process run its course."

Winstons made it clear that being for due process does not mean the NFLPA is against disciplining players.

"The players aren't against discipline," he said. "And the union is not against discipline. All we're for is a fair process. If a player feels like his rights have been violated under the CBA, then he's got a fair appeal process.

"I don't want anybody to think that we're trying to cover guys and make sure that they don't get disciplined in any way. We are not against discipline.”

Sources: CNN, ESPN