The NFL has threatened to suspend four players named in the Al Jazeera drug report if they do provide interviews to the league by Aug. 25. If they do not cooperate fully, Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison, Green Bay linebackers Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers, and free-agent linebacker Mike Neal would be suspended on Aug. 26.
If the league’s stance seems surprisingly harsh, well, it shouldn’t be.
“A lot of this has to do with Roger Goodell having the hammer that the NFLPA gave him through collective bargaining,” Hall of Fame quarterback and Seahawks voice Warren Moon said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “This is just another example of his power, and that’s something that they’re going to have to try and get back or you’re going to continue to keep having these type of situations against players happen. There’s already this battle between management and players, and it just seems to be getting wider, as opposed to making the league a little bit more friendly. We talked about Eddie DeBartolo going into the Pro Football Hall of Fame just a couple of weeks ago. One of the reasons why is because of that family atmosphere that he created with his football team. You just don’t see as much of that anymore in the National Football League because of that division of power, and this is just another example of it.
“It’s going to be awhile before they get back to the table, but this is something the players definitely have to look at more seriously than they did the first time,” Moon continued. “I think they were more concerned about playing conditions and training camp being easier and the time they spent in the offseason and all those different things. On the other side, they gave all the power as far as discipline to the commissioner. They’re going to have to look at that a little more seriously – because again, he’s going to use that power every time he has the opportunity and they’re going to make players have to revert to (what) Tom Brady (did): go get attorneys and start suing the league and going through litigation. And that’s just not the way it should be.”
Moon, 59, played in the NFL from 1984 to 2000 and was a nine-time Pro Bowler. He does not feel that today’s players give the commissioner’s office the benefit of the doubt.
“Not a whole lot,” Moon said. “I think back in the day when I played, Paul Tagliabue and Gene Upshaw had a really good relationship and they seemed to get things done when it was time to have collective bargaining and it seemed like both sides were happy with the way they turned out. Nowadays, you look at what’s going on with the division of power in the league. The commissioner has it all. Everything he pretty much says, goes – and if you don’t go along with what he says, then you end up in court and that’s going to cost you a whole lot of money that way to try and fight it. They’ve got to do something to get that division of power back a little more equal and get some more people involved in who makes the decisions.”