In the midst of all of the drama in the New Orleans Saints bounty dispute between the NFL powers-that-be like Roger Goodell and the players who stand to be suspended, there's a greater story of the lack of balance within the structure of the league. The only problem is that the players just negotiated this new level of power for the NFL commissioner, and now they're stuck with it.
In a recent article in the USA Today, various players are speaking out about their frustrations in the new collective bargaining agreement. Eric Winston of the Kansas City Chiefs is among the most vocal:
"Obviously we don't want Roger Goodell having absolute power," said Winston. "In a lot of this process, it seems like he does. It's unfortunate. It seems like he's running amok with it and deciding to do what he wants and it really doesn't matter what the evidence says. Unfortunately, we don't have an alternative option to appeal to. I can't imagine how frustrating it is for those (four suspended) players.
"In that CBA bargaining process, you're not going to get everything you want," he continued. "That's not to say we weren't trying to curb some of that (power). To say we weren't trying to do something about that is false. Just from what's been told to me, there were attempts made. And there's a tradeoff. To do that, we probably looked at sacrificing playing less games, so you always look at the risk and reward. And try to juggle that."
In short, the players would likely have something else to complain about if Goodell had been stripped of some of his power. Maybe that's why the NFL shut up rather quickly about an 18-game schedule. Or perhaps there were other concessions. It doesn't matter at this point. This is the new NFL in which Goodell is the sheriff. The players, like Winston, will have to learn how to live with it, like it or not.