NFL Players Association president Domonique Foxworth believes the NFL hasn't acted fairly in its investigation of the New Orleans Saints' "bounty" scandal, is misleading the public and has yet to provide any evidence of player involvement in the pay-for-injury program.
"There are people willingly misleading the public, saying that the NFL Players Association's objections to the conduct of the 'bounty' investigation conflicts with our deep, decades-long commitment to player health and safety," Foxworth wrote in a special op-ed for USA Today on Wednesday.
Foxworth explained that the NFLPA's objection to the NFL's punishment of Saints players Jonathan Vilma, Anthony Hargrove, Will Smith and Scott Fujita stems from a lack of fairness in its investigation.
"Instead of transparent and fair due process for the four suspended players, the NFL chose news media leaks, character assassinations, PR campaigns and legal manipulation to mislead the public," Foxworth continued. "We're obligated to ensure that the league is fair, accountable and transparent and upholds our collective bargaining agreement. If we are not vigilant in protecting these basic tenets, the consequences put every player's livelihood and career at risk."
Foxworth highlighted that the NFLPA has led changes in the way concussions are addressed and demanded change in the NFL's leadership on brain-trauma research and prevention.
"It's a cruel insult to conclude that we would place hundreds of NFL athletes who play by the rules at risk in order to protect a handful of players proven guilty of literally gambling with the safety and livelihoods of others," Foxworth continued.
The NFLPA recently filed a grievance challenging NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's authority to punish players for their involvement in the "bounty" scandal.
"Players have seen no specific, detailed evidence of player participation in a pay-to-injure program," Foxworth wrote. "We know a coach crossed the line, but where is the evidence that any players actually committed themselves financially or tactically to carrying out a 'bounty' program? Punishment demands evidence, and the route chosen by the league precludes even the possibility of a fair review."