The four NFL players suspended in the Bounty Gate scandal have tried everything at their disposal to have their suspensions overturned, but to no avail.
They have appealed, tried to say the commissioner doesn’t have the authority to suspend them for events prior to this collective bargaining agreement, claimed that the voice heard on a tape was not really them and just about anything else they could think of. None of it has worked and quite honestly, none of it probably will.
But there is one legitimate gripe the players have against Commissioner Roger Goodell: they have the right to see the evidence the league is using against them so they and their lawyers and agents can mount a fair defense.
Let’s face it, NFL careers are short and if a player’s reputation and integrity are questioned, it could cost them dearly in future contract negotiations. That plus the loss of the games they will miss and the salaries that go with them are potentially worth hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars to these players.
While it may not make a difference in the final decision,are entitled to see the evidence against them. That’s only fair and that’s how things are supposed to work in this country.
The NFL may not want all of this evidence made public. They may make access to the evidence contingent on signing a confidentiality agreement. The league may also cross out the names of some witnesses if they need to protect their sources. But if someone is saying they have evidence against a person that may cost them a lot of money, they should be able to examine this evidence and try to make their case directly to the commissioner.
If the league agrees to let the players examine the evidence and attempt to address it, that is a fair appeal. Until then, the players have a legitimate complaint that the league is violating their rights to a fair hearing.
But if the league does let the players see the evidence and the suspensions are still upheld after a fair hearing, the players have to accept the verdict and move on. There are plenty of things these players can do in their time off to rehabilitate their reputations and the best thing they could do is start working on that.
I can’t say the players have handled the situation with grace, but they do have a real beef with the way the league has handled the evidence. It’s time to fix it now.
So we can all move on from Bounty Gate and make the game of football safer and fairer for all players.