By Jeremy Clements
The NFL Players Association is in a rather precarious position.
Two former NFL players have committed suicide within the last 18 months, One has already been linked to concussions, the other may eventually be.
Meanwhile, the NFL has suspended four players for their participation in a bounty program that may have helped the New Orleans Saints win a Super Bowl. Current Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma for the 2012 season, former Saints defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove (now with the Green Bay Packers) for eight games, Saints defensive end Will Smith for four games, and former Saints linebacker Scott Fujita (now with the Cleveland Browns) for three games. By now most have heard the audio of the current Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams telling his players to go for the kill. To target players heads, knees and other areas. Williams got an indefinite ban, so why should the players get a free pass?
Today, the NFLPA has filed a grievance against the NFL on the behalf of the suspended players.
I’ll say it again, the NFLPA is in a precarious position.
Of course, I understand that DeMaurice Smith is set to argue that the league hasn’t provided any evidence to support the harsh suspensions. However, that doesn’t change the fact that they participated in the program. I will also give these players the right to due process. They have the right to an appeal according to the bylaws established by the NFL and NFLPA.
That said, the NFLPA must balance the right to due process with the acts that these men allegedly committed. Essentially the suspended players were intending to harm other union members. Would that be tolerated in any other industry? I doubt it.
Even more interesting is the lack of support the union has provided to the targeted players. Who is coming to defend the rights of retired players like Brett Favre and Kurt Warner who we know were targeted? Or to the current players like Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton or Frank Gore?
So again I say, the NFLPA is in a precarious spot and I think that this topic merits a discussion. So far the topic of conversation has been focused on the aggressors while the victims have been overlooked…it’s time for that to change.