Friday Sports Briefs

UFL Set to Play in E. Hartford on November 12

sentinelsuniform2As part of the UFL’s inaugural season, the Florida Tuskers and New York Sentinels will play at Rentschler Field on November 12.  The game signifies the possibility that the upstart league will field a team in Hartford in its second year.

UConn football is off that week, but will people come?  My concerns are that with Yale,  Southern Connecticut State, and the return of the U of New Haven program, football options abound (see my article UFL Update: Is Connecticut an Under Served Football Market?); and more importantly I don’t see any grassroots connections with the UFL unless the New York team signs some local players.  Will you attend the UFL game in East Hartford?

For all of Connecticut Sports Law’s coverage on the UFL, click here.

The Power of the Commissioner on Display with Vick, Stallworth

goodellRoger Goodell, the NFL’s law and order commissioner, made news by suspending Cleveland Browns receiver Donte Stallworth for the entire 2009-10 season without pay.  Goodell’s power – which will surely be revisited in the upcoming negotiations of the collective  bargainig agreement – is exemplified by this excerpt in his letter to Stallworth:

“As you recognized both at and following the hearing, guilt or innocence as a matter of criminal law is not the same as a violation of NFL policies.  Here, long-standing league policies make clear that discipline is warranted ‘if a player is convicted of or admits to a violation of the law relating to the use of alcohol.’  The degree of discipline may take into account ‘aggravating circumstances, including but not limited to felonious conduct or felonious injury or death of third parties.’  All of those factors are present here.  There is no question that your actions had tragic consequences to an innocent man and his family, and that you have violated both the Substances of Abuse and Personal Conduct Policies.  In that respect, you are clearly guilty of conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the NFL.”

“Nor do I find that the outcome in the Florida courts is controlling in terms of determining disciplinary consequences within the NFL.  The considerations that applied in Florida, particularly with respect to criminal standards of proof, claims of contributory negligence, consideration of crowded court dockets, and the like, do not enter into this decision.  Without regard to the merits of the disposition of the criminal case, I believe that further consequences are necessary.”

 Excerpts from Goodell’s letter provided by the National Football Post.

With Michael Vick, Commissioner Goodell reinstated the former Atlanta Falcon but suspended him for a period up to 6 games after his release from federal prison.  In my opinion, Goodell’s suspension was less punitive and more business savvy.  Goodell didn’t want Michael Vick to the be headline story of the start of the 2009-10 season.  Perhaps he also intended to give Vick a chance to get in shape and get reacquainted to NFL life without the pressure of making the game-day roster for week 1.  Now Vick has signed with the Philadephia Eagles and the story can (hopefully for Goodell and the NFL) run its course during the preseason. 

The Stallworth and Vick stories reveal Goodell’s vast power as not only judge and jury, but as the protector of the NFL’s business interests. and maybe even the protector of Vick’s interests.

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