Goodell’s Absolute Power

Yesterday, an arbitrator ruled in favor of the NFL against the Players Association to uphold the league’s personal conduct policy. The Personal Conduct Policy, which was implemented in 2014, affords commissioner Roger Goodell the power to place a player on the exempt list, or grant leave without pay.

Prior to his ruling, the arbitrator encouraged both sides to negotiate a settlement, but talks fell apart when the League refused to have a neutral third party hear appeals, instead of Commissioner Goodell (examples include Tom Brady’s appeal in Deflategate, and the Chief’s appeal for tampering).

So what is the exempt list? The exempt list (also known as the “Commissioner’s list”), is the list that only the commissioner has the power to place players on. When a player is on the exempt list he does not count against the teams active player list, and the commissioner has full power to decide how long the player shall remain on the exempt list. However, the player is paid while on the exempt list. Recently, the exempt status was used on Viking’s Adrian Peterson, while he dealt with his legal issues, during the 2014 season.

This is the first true win for the NFL v. the NFLPA concerning the personal conduct policy. The NFLPA is still fighting other cases concerning Goodell’s power throughout the process, but as of right now the NFL received a huge boost, this ruling reaffirmed that Commissioner Goodell has full authority on conduct cases.


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