October 17, 2017 – Jeff Fannell spoke recently with Global News Canada (Hamilton, Oct. 16) about the collusion grievance filed by free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick against the National Football League. Kaepernick has remained unsigned this season after his much-publicized protest to bring awareness to police brutality and social injustice in the United States. Listen HERE for Jeff’s take on the grievance and the current state of athlete activism.
Brother’s been busy and had been planning to get with you in a minute, but this Cam Newton thing has compelled me to the keyboard. Cam spoke out the other day about being an African-American quarterback who “scares” some people and that he receives some of the criticism because he’s black. On cue, scores of people became uncomfortable, defensive and downright silly, as is often the case when the subject turns to race. Why are you bringing up race? This is about football! This is about the N-F-L!! Well, I’m with Cornell West on this one – race matters. Always has, always will. How it matters may differ, but it always matters, and we should be mature enough at this point to be able to have an intelligent discussion about what remains a sensitive topic for many, particularly in the sports world. Instead, as it relates to Cam, we hear: He dances too much. The theory is Cam gets criticized not because he’s African-American, but because he celebrates too much. He claims he’s all about the team, the argument goes, but he just brings attention to himself. Really? I’m old enough to remember Mark Gastineau of the New York Jets, […]
Real quick, because a brother’s gotta run. I come from a union household. My father was a member of D.C. 37 in New York City for over 30 years. A roof overhead, clothes on the back and food on the table were all courtesy of a union job, paying a decent wage. After law school, I worked three years for the AFL-CIO, the umbrella organization for organized labor in the United States. After that, I spent 10 years as a labor lawyer for the Major League Baseball Players Association, widely considered among the most powerful unions in the country. For the past five years I have continued to work on behalf of labor, assisting labor organizations, athletes and the agents who represent them in various capacities. So no one needs to check my union card. When an NLRB regional director ruled in March 2014 that Northwestern football players were employees within the meaning of the National Labor Relations Act, and therefore could unionize, I (of course) … disagreed with the decision. Union sensibilities aside, I simply could not accept that the athletic scholarships the football players received equated to wages or compensation given in exchange for working for the school. […]
This is the part of the domestic violence story too few want to talk about. The part where the female victim recants the story. In the aftermath of Ray Rice and other high profile incidents, the clarion call in professional sports has been to develop or strengthen domestic violence policies in the game. While that, in the main, is absolutely right, the need for players and their unions to be involved in the discussion (hear this out NFL), is vital, because agree with it or not, high-profile, highly-paid athletes may well be targets of unfounded accusations. Given that, there is a real need to ensure that any reported incident of domestic violence is credible before players are suspended and careers forever tarnished. Staking out that position may not be politically correct, but it’s right. The unfolding story of Jonathan Taylor stands as the most recent Exhibit A. Taylor, a former defensive lineman for the University of Alabama football team, was accused this past weekend of physically assaulting a woman and causing injuries to her neck and damage to her property. Following his arrest, Alabama Coach Nick Saban dismissed Taylor from the team. But now comes the news that on March […]
The Washington Redskins have a new opponent in their court fight to retain their controversial trademark: the Obama administration. Recently, the U.S. Department of Justice filed notice of its intention to intervene in the long-running battle over whether the Washington Redskins can legally maintain the trademark on their name. Last June, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceled the team’s trademarks upon finding that the marks and the name “Redskins” were disparaging to Native Americans. In the team’s appeal of that ruling the Redskins argued that the section of the Lanham Act that prohibits the registration of offensive trademarks was “overly vague and ambiguous” and impermissibly interfered with their First Amendment right to free speech. The team also claimed the ruling stripped the team its intellectual property rights in violation of the Fifth Amendment. The DOJ has joined the battle because the Redskins, in its appeal, raised a constitutional challenge against the Lanham Act, which is a federal law. The Department issued a statement declaring that it is “dedicated to defending the constitutionality of the important statute ensuring that trademark issues involving disparaging and derogatory language are dealt with fairly.” The statement went on to say that the Department will […]
“I’d rather have the experience of playing in the NFL and die 10 to 15 years earlier than not play in the NFL and have a long life. I don’t really look toward my life after football. I’ll figure things out when I get there. As long as I outlive my parents.” So said Chicago Bears safety Chris Conte, who has suffered a back injury, two concussions, a shoulder injury and an eye injury this season. What say you?
Score a victory for workplace justice. On November 28, arbitrator Barbara S. Jones, a former U.S. District Court judge, ruled that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell abused his discretion when he suspended Rice indefinitely following a previous two-game suspension for the same incident. Rice, as most know by now, was suspended two games and fined an additional week’s salary for hitting his then-fiancée Janay Palmer and knocking her unconscious inside an Atlantic City hotel elevator in February. Footage of Rice dragging Janay outside the elevator was available immediately and outraged many. Then in early September a second videotape showing what happened inside the elevator was released, leading to the Ravens cutting Rice and to the NFL suspending him indefinitely. Goodell justified this second (and more severe) penalty on the fact that Rice gave a “starkly different sequence of events” than what was captured on the second video. In overturning the NFL’s suspension Judge Jones found: While Article 43 of the NFL’s CBA (dealing with Club discipline) provides for just cause, Article 46 (dealing with League discipline) does not. This means Rice had to overcome a higher “abuse of discretion” standard. In other words, the NFL would prevail so long as […]
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant has fired his agent Eugene Parker and has hired Jay Z’s Roc Nation to represent him. This reportedly has displeased Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who has publicly stated how great a relationship he has with Parker, Bryant’s former agent. According to multiple sources Jones has said that Bryant’s signing with Roc Nation would make the Cowboys’ upcoming contract negotiations with Bryant “more difficult.” What in the world is up with THAT?? Players have the right, through their union, to have agents of their choice represent them in contract negotiations. Any owner or club official who interferes or attempts to interfere with that right is violating both the collective bargaining agreement and federal labor law. Jones’ public displeasure is reminiscent of the early days of sports agents when owners simply refused to deal with agents, despite the fact that players had properly designated them as their representatives. This is not only the height of arrogance, it is also dangerous. Players and their unions simply cannot allow any owner to even think that he or she can tell a player – explicitly or implicitly – who can be his agent. That Jones has a “great relationship” […]
“The tide is turning. … Players are going to be paid. Now whether it happens in five years or 10 or 15, I have no idea. But there’s no way we’re going to make this kind of money and never pay the players.” So said ESPN’s Jay Bilas regarding compensation for college athletes. Should college athletes be paid? What say you?
As the calendar turned to October, the crisp fall temperatures reminded us that football was in full bloom. For many, that is a good thing, as football remains the sports king of America. However, the recent report of three football-related deaths in four days was alarming, to say the least. That these tragedies all involved high school athletes raises the concern even the more. According to a report in USA Today, this season there have been at least seven football-related deaths involving high school athletes – and we still have nearly two months to go. Last year, eight players died from football-related injuries, the highest total since 1976. Much work is being done to stem the tide of concussions and other serious injuries in football. While such efforts are certainly to be applauded, this recent report is a sober reminder of just how much work remains to be done. Photo credit: Getty Images