Protect the Shield – Fight NFL Unfairness and Corruption
by Sheilla Dingus
Defenders of Wall would like to welcome new members from various team affiliations and would like to encourage new membership from fans, media reps, journalists, attorneys and others interested in seeing reform within the NFL.
While our organization began with a Facebook Group filled with New England Patriots fans, who were disgruntled and angered at the unprecedented wrath of Roger Goodell against our team, our research and study has shown us that the problem is much bigger than just the Patriots. All teams and all of professional football is threatened by a few pages in the NFL/NFLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement known as “Article 46.” If you are not familiar with the ramifications of the dictatorial authority granted to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell based on recent court rulings, we ask that you read the article linked from the image below to get up to speed.
As you will learn from the article, The clause, “conduct detrimental to the integrity of, or public confidence in the game of professional football,” is the key in understanding what’s at stake here. The Commissioner has been granted by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals interpretation extremely broad and dangerous authority. He can act as judge, jury and executioner in regard to any offense, real or perceived, without regard to bias, precedent, or any other interpretation of fairness. He can hand out any punishment that he chooses to players or teams by deeming the conduct “detrimental” and if appealed, he has the option to hear the appeal and rule in favor of himself for all practical purposes.
The language of the NFL Constitution, to which all executives and owners are bound states the Commissioner’s power even more strongly than in the CBA. Knowledge is power! And what many fans do not understand is the limitations on franchise owners to fight against the League or Commissioner, except under rare circumstances or support by an overwhelming majority of owners. Here are a few excerpts from the document which demonstrate the extreme power granted the Commissioner:
Article 3 of the Constitution severely limits the ability of a franchise or its ownership to sue the League, IE Section (C) above. Many people cite the lawsuit between Al Davis and the Raiders against the NFL as evidence that the League can be sued. Well, technically, anyone can sue anyone for any reason, but that doesn’t make it a smart move. The lawsuit between Davis and the NFL took eleven years to find resolution, and because it was centered on team relocation, was a fit for anti-trust law. Disciplinary matters are not. Pete Rozelle was Commissioner at the time, and handled League matters very differently from Roger Goodell.
The section pictured above clearly designates the Commissioner’s absolute authority in arbitration.
Section 8 illustrates the consequences owners may face by going against the status quo. Note the provision circled above. This means that an owner can be disciplined to the extent of loosing his franchise and having it placed for sale by the League. Pretty heavy risk wouldn’t you say? Unless a very strong majority of owners stand together, with the leverage of removing the Commissioner, most would choose not to take this risk.
So that’s where we the public come in. While League outsiders have no legal standing in matters relating to the League, we do have voices that can be heard. We can use those voices to influence and persuade those who do have authority to take action. It won’t be a short process in all likelihood; and there are no guarantees – but “for the love of football” we should put forth the effort.
Our organization began with a group of Patriots fans, but Patriots fans can’t win the battle alone; neither can Saints fans, Chiefs fans, nor any other fan base, but through working together we have a shot. Working together demands respect. All of us love our teams and are completely behind them on the field. I would expect nothing less and quite frankly find myself disgusted with a “fan” that doesn’t love and support their team. You don’t have to like my team and I don’t have to like yours for us to work together. All we must do is show mutual respect to one another along with a commitment to finding solutions. If people from all fan bases stand together, our collective voices will eventually be heard.
We urge you to join us. If there is a problem facing your team in regard to NFL discipline, keep us apprised – we’ll fight for you and with you. If you wish to coordinate with us through a group based on your own team affiliation we can help you to avoid some of the challenges and pitfalls that we faced in the beginning. We have a common foe. Let’s bring fairness back to football, otherwise, ANYONE could be next!
The following states the code of conduct in our Facebook group. We hope you’ll join us!