Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Someone Dares to Challenge the Dictator

Two players have quietly filed lawsuits against the NFL over their arbitrary suspensions. You gotta do what you gotta do when your so called "union" is unconcerned about your reinstatement.

Odell Thurman of the Cincinnati Bengals and Torrie Cox of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have filed discrimination claims with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

No, it's not what you think.

The players are not claiming racial discrimination, but discrimination based on disability. The lawsuits were filed with the EEOC under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Basically, the players are asserting that they have been treated as alcoholics in the eyes of the NFL. Furthermore, the players are contending that alcoholism is a disability. They are claiming that the commissioner has a negative view of alcoholics and he only suspended them because he perceives the players to be alcoholics. The ADA prohibits employers from discriminating against workers with disabilities.

There is precedent for the players' claim. Roy Tarpley was suspended from the NBA in 1995. The EEOC ruled that NBA violated the ADA when it did not reinstate Tarpley even though he apparently passed drug screenings for four straight years.

Thurman's agent claims that he has passed all league administered tests.

Goodell is facing the lawsuit mostly because he has not established clear standards for suspension. When he denied Thurman's request for reinstatement, Goodell cited no reason.

And even though the league, the owners and even the player's union feel comfortable with Goodell as arbitrary arbiter of discipline, Goodell's authority is not the only authority that matters.