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Rooney Says Informal Discipline Reform Talks Underway

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Steelers President Art Rooney II said Tuesday the NFL and team owners have begun “informal discussions” with the players’ union about potential changes to the sport’s system of player discipline and other issues related to the two sides’ labor deal, Mark Maske of the Washington Post reports.

Rooney’s comments are the first formal confirmation the owners are tying changes to Commissioner Roger Goodell’s authority in player discipline to an extension of the labor deal with the union. They also appear to signal that the owners do not intend to make those changes at this point in time without such an extension.

Rooney said no formal negotiations are scheduled yet. He also said he does not expect the owners and the NFL Players Association to be able to strike a deal on modifications to the disciplinary system — and Goodell’s role in it — within the next few months, given that Rooney envisions any such changes being made as part of an extension of the collective bargaining agreement.

“I don’t think there’s been anything formal in terms of when to begin the process,” Rooney said in a telephone interview. “There have been some informal discussions. No timetable has been discussed. I don’t think it will move at a pace where I could see there being anything as far as a resolution this season.”

Sentiment to change Goodell’s role in the disciplinary process has intensified since U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman this month overturned the four-game suspension imposed by the league, and upheld by Goodell on appeal, on New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in the long-running DeflateGate case.

But Rooney, a member of the owners’ bargaining committee, said that while the league is willing to discuss changes to the disciplinary process and Goodell’s role in it with the union, the owners won’t necessarily feel an urgent need to implement such modifications based on Berman’s ruling.

“I don’t get a sense from anyone on the committee that the reaction to Judge Berman’s decision should be a need to rush into major changes in the disciplinary system,” Rooney said. “We’ve expressed a willingness to discuss that with the union. But if it is going to come in the context of an extension of the collective bargaining agreement, it will probably be like everything else that involves discussions with the union. It will probably be a long process. I don’t think the timing of it will be soon. I don’t think it will be by the end of the season.”

Matt Loede has been in the sports media for over 16 years, with experience covering the MLB, NBA, and NFL. On Sunday’s during football season, you can hear Matt on national networks like Fox Sports Radio, Associated Press, and others. Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, Matt studies and talks football inside and out, and is anxious to share his thoughts and comments with readers on a daily basis.

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