It's no secret that Roger Goodell has had a lot of criticism over the past month. Now, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees has jumped on the band wagon.
He's criticised how the commissioner has handled certain disciplinary cases over the last few years:
"Too many times, I'd say especially over the last few years, a punishment's been handed down and nobody has really seen the evidence except for those in the league office -- supposedly," Brees said via ESPN. "So decisions were made in kind of a, 'Hey, trust us.' But did the public see any of the facts? Did the accused see any of the facts? In most cases, no."
Brees believes that the NFLPA and independent experts, should have a role in deciding player punishment instead of the "unilateral" system that has been in place with "no checks and balances."
"That's why you have multiple parties to make sure everyone comes together, cooler heads prevail. The decision isn't just based on emotion at the time, which I can say I believe has happened in the past in regards to commissioner discipline," Brees said. "It's been based upon emotion as opposed to maybe the facts and (a new disciplinary policy would) prevent that from ever happening again."
Brees has witnessed first hand what the commissioner has the power to do. Remember Bountygate - the case that shocked the NFL in 2012. For those who need refreshing. The Bounty scandal was an incident in which several defensive players from the Saints were accused of operating a slush fund that paid out bonuses, or "bounties", for in-game performance in violation of NFL rules.
Among other things, Saints players allegedly earned bonuses for inflicting injuries on opposing players that forced them to leave games; however, none of the hits in question were ever penalized or deemed illegal by in-game officials.
Head Coach Sean Peyton was subsequently suspended for the entire 2012 season, as was star linebacker Jonathan Vilma.
Lack of Consistency
Brees' main issue is that where there is apparent wrongdoing and evidence to suspend players for periods of time, the evidence isn't always accurate and more often than not, the evidence isn't revealed. He also picks at the lack of consistency in punishments that are handed out.
Example: Ray Rice knocks out his then fiancee in an elevator and was only suspended for two games (prior to all the video footage emerging). Line that up next to Josh Gordon's initial season long suspension for failing a drugs test after taking marijuana. How Goodell and his staff think the lengths of those punishments are accurate is staggering.
Brees also believes that Goodell hasn't held himself accountable for his mistakes in the past, particularly the Ray Rice domestic violence case and that he hasn't held himself to the same high standard that he held the Saints hierarchy to in the wake of the bounty scandal.
"I think it's a great tie-in because obviously the same things that I've heard, the same things that I feel (about Goodell) are the quotes that were thrown out at members of the Saints organization in regards to why they were being punished," Brees said. "Things such as, 'Ignorance is no excuse,' and, 'if you didn't know you should've known,' are things that would absolutely apply in this case, except the roles are reversed and it's going back at Commissioner Goodell and the league office."
Should Goodell leave his post
The Saints quarterback remained coy when asked if he thought that Goodell should resign from his post:
"That's not up to me. I'm more focused on the solution, as far as creating and then maintaining policies that you can be consistent with and open with and transparent with, and bringing together all parties that should be involved."
Saints offensive tackle Zach Strief who is the Saints' union rep said that he doesn't think Goodell should retire, but thinks he should be punished - and that punishment should be consistent with the punishment that the Saints hierarchy received in 2012.
"What is the precedent for making a colossal mistake?" Strief told reporters. "The precedent has been you missed a season. It's very simple. The exact situation has already happened, and it happened here. Unfortunately for Roger, he set the precedent. He said, 'You made a big mistake, it cost the league, it's harmed the shield. Here's what it was before. To me, that's the only fair thing. Not that that matters."
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