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Eric Winston: NFLPA granted Goodell 'absolute power'


More than a few NFL players have come to the conclusion that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is simply too powerful.

Eric Winston isn't afraid to say it. The Kansas City Chiefs offensive tackle regrets the NFL Players Association didn't do more to rein in Goodell's authority over the disciplinary and appeals process when it agreed to the new CBA last summer. Winston pointed to Monday's disciplinary hearing, arguing the four players suspended in connection with the New Orleans Saints alleged "bounty" program are victims of an unfair system.

"Obviously we don't want Roger Goodell having absolute power," Winston told Nate Davis of USA TODAY on Monday. "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."

Winston says the players' union last summer fought to curb Goodell's power but ultimately compromised in order to finalize the CBA and get back on the field.

"Just from what's been told to me, there were attempts made. And there's a tradeoff," Winston said. "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."

Atlanta Falcons wideout Roddy White also lashed out at the NFLPA this week, suggesting the union failed the players. Arizona Cardinals kicker Jay Feely agrees the Commissioner's power grip was viewed as problematic, but ultimately not a "deal breaker" in negotiations: "Yes, the players wish he didn't have that power," Feely said, "but it wasn't worth sacrificing (the) CBA (over)."

It's easy to forget the pressure heaped on both the players and the league to come to an agreement last summer. After hundreds of hours of negotiations and mediation, both sides inked the deal. Many of the players believe they compromised too much.


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