How Far Is Too Far: Scope of Commissioner Discipline of Player Misconduct

Open Access
Ain, Alexa Pauline
Area of Honors:
Labor and Employment Relations
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Douglas Allen, Thesis Supervisor
  • Paul Whitehead , Honors Advisor
  • Football
  • Collective Bargaining
  • Player Misconduct
  • Due Process
  • Leadership
  • Resources
  • Leverage
This paper analyzes the current system of Commissioner Discipline in the National Football League and recommends changes both the League and Players Association should make to the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) before negotiating in 2021. The ultimate decision-maker for the owners of the National Football League (NFL) at the bargaining table is the Commissioner, while the ultimate decision-maker for the players at the bargaining table is the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA). The current system of Commissioner Discipline in the National Football League for handling player misconduct accusations does not grant the players adequate due process rights, as it is a unilateral decision by the Commissioner of the League. This paper utilizes language from the other three major professional leagues collective bargaining agreements, as well as information from the two most recent player discipline cases: Tom Brady “Deflategate” and the Ezekiel Elliott domestic violence accusation. This thesis recommends changes in the collective bargaining agreement, specifically an alteration to Article 46: Commissioner Discipline. This recommendation is a three-person hearing board with a representative from the League, from the Players Association, as well as a neutral-third party, adding greater due process rights for the players, while not entirely eliminating the Commissioner’s decision-making ability.