Ed Bouchette wrote a timely article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that refers to the New England Patriots' current appeal to US federal court and how it relates to the stance of the Pittsburgh Steelers years ago when the current collective bargaining agreement was established for the NFL.
Not so long ago, it was 2011 and the Pittsburgh Steelers were the only NFL team in open opposition of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) which was being reached with the NFL and its franchises. The primary contention of the Steelers' organization and its players were the unilateral powers which Goodell was awarded by the CBA. Pittsburgh had been the target of a lot of recent fines against James Harrison as well as a suspension on Ben Roethlisberger for a crime which he was never charged. Goodell's power as NFL Commissioner gave him the power to make decisions without any systems of checks and balances to counter them.
Ryan Clark was the NFLPA union representative for the Steelers at the time of the CBA negotiations and did his best to warn the league of the dangers which were implied in the CBA by giving Goodell unilateral power over player conduct issues. When the dust settled on the CBA it was passed almost unanimously. The lone team that voted against it being passed was the team that had spent the entire negotiations warning other franchises of the problems that could come with the unilateral powers granted to Roger Goodell in this process, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
It seemed as if the only people that cared about this issue at the time a were the Steelers and that was acceptable on most sports talk platforms. At the time Bob Ryan, of the Boston Globe, supported Roger Goodell in the consistent punishments of James Harrison, calling Harrison "a sicko, a dirty player, a maniac," among other names over the hits Harrison administered in his career. The CBA was a non-issue point for most of sports heading into the 2011 NFL season.
These days Bob Ryan seems to not like Goodell at all, especially with his decision in regards to Tom Brady's suspension when Ryan referred to the punishment "draconian" about "overblown nonsense" earlier this week.
Ryan is not alone in that there has been a steep rise in the disapproval of Goodell's unilateral power now that the cross hairs have been pointed at Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
If you asked any red-blooded Steelers fan about their opinion of Roger Goodell, they might be along the lines, though much less severe, of James Harrison's thoughts in his interview with Men's Journal in 2011 when he called Goodell a "crook and a puppet" as well as give a suggestion of what he might not do were Goodell ever on fire. Goodell's unilateral power in decisions on punishments may not have been an issue for the mainstream back then, but ask the Steelers' organization, Steelers players, Pittsburgh journalists and fans of the Steelers, and you would probably have known a lot more of the potential issues that can arise from how the NFL's CBA was constructed.
Now that Tom Brady, one of the NFL's all-time golden boys, has become subject of Goodell's unilateral power it seems to be a topic enough for more people in the mainstream media to talk about, and for the NFLPA to sue against his powers in US Federal Court. I don't see their appeal working too well, especially now that the case will be heard in New York and not Minnesota. As far as a stretch as it was for the Patriots to claim jurisdiction for this case in Minnesota, of all places, it will probably be just as hard for them to win this case. Even if they are successful at getting an injunction to wait for a court's decision, it puts Brady at risk for having to serve his suspension later in the season when the games could be a lot more crucial to the fate of the 2015 Patriots.
The fact that the Steelers are to play the Patriots in the first game of Tom Brady's suspension is a big bowl of irony. The Steelers warned everyone for years of the dangers of the CBA, only for teams to not seem to care until it impacts their own franchise such as this situation, or the case of the New Orleans Saints and "bountygate."
The classy thing to do here is what the Steelers have done in saying they want to play Brady in the opener.
However I wouldn't blame them for a snarky comment along the lines of, "I told you so."