August 24, 2019
Helmetgate 2.0: "Independent Arbitrators" Who are they?
Mike Florio, of ProFootballTalk, posted an excellent article earlier today about just how neutral and independent the arbitrators who resolve issues like the Antonio Brown helmet fight are.
The NFL careful pushed the terms “neutral” and “independent” when describing the arbitrator who makes the decision. But are they? It depends.
Article 43, Section 6 of the CBA shows just how vulnerable each member of the arbitration panel maintained by the NFL and NFL Players Association is to losing the assignment.
The CBA requires the establishment of a four-person pool of arbitrators, with one of them assigned (presumably randomly) to handle each non-injury grievance. Every year, in a window that opens on July 10 and closes on July 20, the NFL and the NFLPA have the right to fire any member of the arbitration panel, no questions asked. And if one side exercises that right, the other side has the ability to fire another member of the arbitration panel within the next two days, again no questions asked, per Florio.
This means that, while each arbitrator has independence over every given grievance, there’s a big-picture dance in which each arbitrator must engage in order to keep the job over the long haul. If/when an arbitrator strings together too many rulings in favor of the NFLPA, the NFL may be inclined to pull the rip cord, and vice-versa. And if the rip cord gets pulled as to one arbitrator who skews too far in the direction of one side, the remaining arbitrator of the four (now three) who is regarded as being the most favorable to the other side ends up on the endangered species list.
While the arbitrators are neutral and independent in each given case, the broader circumstances — influenced by the annual threat of summarily being fired — makes them less neutral and independent than the labels would suggest.
To read Florio's complete article click HERE.
Ran DeBord - All Access Sporting News
Some content sourced and verified from: AASNSports; ProFootballTalk; NFLCBA
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