The NFL's Troy Vincent made some controversial and illogical comments earlier this week, complaining about the amount of money the NFLPA spends in legal fees contesting the arbitrary discipline meted out by the league.
Vincent told Ashley Fox of ESPN.com, "Look at the amount of money being spent on legal fees for a handful of people. It's millions and millions of dollars and we've got players that are hurting. We've got young men who don't know how to identify a good financial adviser. Men are in transition who aren't doing well, and yet $8-$10 million a year is spent in court fees about who should make a decision on someone, who in some cases has committed a crime. Think about that logically. Wouldn't it be better to spend out time and resources that are vital to our players- past, present, and future-- such as the players' total wellness and growing the game together?"
Well, as luck, or the most recent CBA would have it, there is a new initiative called The Players Trust, an organization tasked with helping NFL players in transition. So, it is not as if retired players are continuing to be neglected and ignored as the had been.
The Player's Trust aside, Vincent's logic is, well, illogical.
1) A player commits an infraction or crime.
2) The NFL punishes the player.
3) As the NFL is wont to do, that punishment is arbitrary, perhaps decided by a rousing game of Pin the Tail on the Punishment at a kid's birthday party.
4) The player says, "Oh hell no!"
5) The player's union- the NFLPA- steps in and appeals.
6) The appeal reveals problems inherent in the process itself and the way the NFL uses its power.
7) There is a lawsuit.
8) The lawsuit costs money.
9) Lately, courts have sided with the NFLPA.
There is a pretty easy solution to all of this. The NFL could get it right the first time so the NFLPA doesn't need to resort to expensive legal action.
I'd like to check out Troy Vincent's logic in other areas of life. For example, an Audi S5 could be parked in a handicapped space. A police officer could decide that the correct punishment for this is to key the car and write the words "You shouldn't have parked here" in black sharpie. Would it make sense for the police officer to complain that the Audi S5 owner's insurance company pursued compensation from the police department?
No! Guy in the Audi gets a parking ticket, and there really isn't anything to argue about. You get creative with the punishment, and, yeah, Guy in the Audi might need to spend some money to make sure the situation is handled correctly.
Troy Vincent is like the police officer with the sharpie and keys. Yes, sometimes players break the rules, but when the NFL is so inconsistent and arbitrary in their consequences, they open themselves up to legal action. That is how it works. There is a cost associated with that legal action.
I'll argue that if the NFL weren't so haphazard in their punishments and appeals process the NFLPA would have more money to take care of their players because they wouldn't need to spend so much money righting a wrong.