Report: 'Progress' made toward changing Goodell's role in appeals

Over the last year-plus, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's role in player discipline has come under fire. Why? The league and the NFLPA collectively bargained a system in which Goodell is essentially judge, jury and executioner. Goodell not only plays a significant role hearing evidence on violations of the league's personal conduct policy, but also in deciding punishments and hearing appeals (or deciding which "independent" arbitrator will hear the appeal) on those punishments.

This happened in the domestic violence investigations of Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson (alleged child abuse) and Greg Hardy, as well as the Deflategate case against the New England Patriots and Tom Brady, to name just a few instances. The NFLPA appealed several of those cases to authorities beyond Goodell, even taking the Peterson and Brady cases to federal court, where the players argued that Goodell overstepped his bounds in handing out punishments.

Now, the NFLPA and the league are reportedly closing in on an agreement that would alter Goodell's role in the appeals process, according to the Washington Post.

An accord appears within reach as the negotiations continue. But the timetable for completing a deal is unclear and if those close to the process know at this point what Goodell’s modified role will be, they’re not saying.

According to one person with knowledge of the proceedings, “slow progress” is being made in the talks. That person expressed doubt that a deal will be struck soon but added that the two sides probably “will get there eventually.”


The NFLPA is seeking neutral arbitration for appeals by players of discipline imposed by the league under the sport’s personal conduct policy and integrity-of-the-game rules. Currently such appeals are heard and resolved by Goodell or a person appointed by him.

The report does not state whether Goodell's role in the hearing of evidence and handing down actual punishments would be altered, and also noted that Goodell has maintained that he does not want to relinquish his role as arbitrator to a third party. We'll have to see what the union and the league agree on, but if that particular aspect is not going to change, it's hard to see any alterations to the current system making a substantial difference in quelling the players' frustrations.

Roger Goodell's disciplinary role may soon change. (USATSI)
CBS Sports Writer

Jared Dubin is a New York lawyer and writer. He joined in 2014 and has since spent far too much of his time watching film and working in spreadsheets. Full Bio

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