If the CFL and CFLPA need an example of how to handle the disciplinary process in a timely fashion, the NFL appears to have it figured out.
Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette has been suspended one game without pay for leaving the sideline, running across the field and punching Buffalo Bills defensive end Shaq Lawson in a game last Sunday. The NFL announced the suspension on Monday. Fournette appealed but the arbitrator – retired NFL receiver James Thrash – ruled Wednesday that the ruling would stand, meaning Fournette will sit out today’s game against Indianapolis (and be out close to $100,000 U.S.)
— @VersaceBoyEnt (@VersaceBoyEnt3) November 25, 2018
Contrast that process – infraction Sunday, suspension Monday, appeal ruling Wednesday, sit the following Sunday – with how the CFL and the CFLPA handled the Jonathan Rose affair.
Rose was ejected in the Eastern final after making contact with an official, a game that was played on a Sunday. Despite a pair of precedents –there were two incidents during the 2017 season and both resulted in one game suspensions from commissioner Randy Ambrosie – the league waited until Tuesday to announce the suspension.
— CFL on TSN (@CFLonTSN) November 18, 2018
Rose and the CFLPA immediately appealed, as they have every right to do under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement. The problem is, that process takes forever to play out.
The CBA lays out all the details but the timelines are ridiculous: 20 days for one of the people on the list of arbitrators (none of which appear to have a football background) to respond to a grievance, setting out 15 days in the next 60 in which to hold a hearing (“six of which shall be Saturdays and Sundays”), then 30 days following the hearing for the arbitrator to release a decision.
The best example of the process in action: Duron Carter’s one-game suspension for bumping Redblacks head coach Rick Campbell during a game in Montreal back in 2016.
The game took place on June 30, Carter was suspended on July 4 and filed his appeal on July 7. The hearing was held Aug. 17 and an announcement that upheld the ruling was issued on Aug. 29: the appeal process totaled 53 days and Carter appeared in seven games while he waited. Seven. Games.
Given those timelines, it’s hardly surprising that Rose played in the Grey Cup despite the suspension and collected $8,000 for losing (despite recording an early interception.) He’s a free agent this off-season and may never play in another CFL game so if and when the arbitrator upholds the suspension, Rose may never serve it.
Again, contrast that with the NFL and the NFLPA, who not only pre-select two arbitrators – both former players – but also outline the fines and suspensions for a long list of infractions. Oh, and the money goes to a fund to help former players.
Anyway, there’s a long list of things to be dealt with in the next collective bargaining agreement between the CFL and CFLPA and talks are expected to be contentious. But let’s add a streamlined disciplinary and appeals process to the list so situations like the one that allowed Rose to play in the Grey Cup a week after shoving an official don’t happen again.
If the NFL can do it, certainly the CFL can get its act together.