The NFL has a number of appeals that the league has heard over the past couple weeks and the process needs to be streamlined. While a lot of these appeals will be finished before the season starts, the teams of these appealing players want to know what is happening so they can plan accordingly. The NFL owes it to both the players and the teams to give a quick ruling on the appeals because it shouldn’t take too long.
The problem with this appeal process is that the verdict can be challenged which extends the process. If the appealing party is unhappy with the process they can bring the issue to court and try and get the arbitrator thrown out of the case and the process begins again. Usually this process doesn’t happen because most appeals are for small things like illegal hits or failed drug tests.
It is likely the offending party will have to miss some time so they accept the small number of games. More serious violations that deal with the “integrity of the game” are often settled during the offseason, but that brings a new set of hurdles. Just because the NFL has more time to sort out these problems in the offseason doesn’t mean they should take it. There are three appeals right now that are going on and the fact that they are all concerning players on playoff caliber teams and could have some big implications.
In the case of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, the appeal process took a full day of talking between the two sides. This is a very confusing process because it was a minor violation. If after 10+ hours of talking, how much more is there to really think about? It is unlikely that there is much more to consider given all the reports that have come out before the hearing. The appeal is not even concerning the wrongdoing that Brady did on the field in ordering the deflation of footballs, it is about the fact that he was uncooperative with the investigation. Brady has already said that he will take the NFL to court depending on the outcome so it is possible a final result may not be in until the regular season starts.
The case of Dallas Cowboys defensive Greg Hardy is lasting even longer as he has been waiting on five weeks. Recently it was announced that Hardy has been “losing the will to fight” his suspension and is considering sitting out the first 10 games of the new season for his domestic violence situation. Dallas would like Hardy to continue fighting, since they recently signed him to an expensive $11.3 million contract before the suspension came down and while they wouldn’t have to pay him the majority of that, they’d rather have the player on the field.
The final appeal is for Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, who is suspended for three games following a marijuana possession charge. He and then teammate LeGarrette Blount were both caught and arrested, but Bell was taken to the hospital due to his level of intoxication. Blount was only suspended one game and Bell feels that he deserves a similar punishment. As of last month, Bell has not heard his appeal and depending on how long it is taking to settle these other appeals, the Steelers star could be waiting for a while.
Most likely, the NFL is taking its time because they have not had the best record as of late. There have been two domestic violence cases over the past season that were heard and they all have been overturned. Baltimore Ravens’ former running back Ray Rice and the Minnesota Vikings’ Adrian Peterson were both suspended indefinitely, but they were able to fight it and they are both cleared to play right now. This could be playing a factor in Hardy’s suspension since the other two players were domestic violence issues, as well. All three players were suspended for the majority if not all of 2014, but if a third gets overturned it could be damaging for the league’s reputation.
The NFL needs to make sure that the appeal process is quick and easy so that the teams and their players can get on with their lives. If a player and his defense team are not convincing at the end of their appeal process, especially one heard by the commissioner of the league, then taking a number of weeks to think about it probably won’t help and the same goes for the other way. The NFL seems like it is drawing out these processes in hopes that the players drop the appeal which feels like it is undermining the process and the league shouldn’t be afraid of the ramifications for overturning these altercations.