Judge Doty fumbled the ball on the Peterson case
Huffington Post - 02/27/2015
Judge David Doty has been hearing labor and antitrust cases involving the National Football League and the Players Association for decades. Although he knows the parties and their collective bargaining agreement, his decision in the Adrian Peterson case shows he doesn’t know arbitration. His reversal of the hearing officer’s decision involving Peterson’s suspension threatens the NFL Commissioner’s power under the collective bargaining agreement to discipline players for personal, off-field misconduct.
Recognizing the importance of the decision, the media featured stories about how Doty’s decision would free the great running back to return to the Minnesota backfield (or maybe not). Far more important, however, are the implications of the manner in which Judge Doty reviewed hearing officer Harold Henderson’s decision upholding the Commissioner’s indefinite suspension of Peterson. Commissioner Roger Goodell had appointed Henderson, a former NFL executive, to hear Peterson’s appeal. Although in court both the NFL and the Players Association characterized Henderson as an arbitrator, he was not an independent neutral selected jointly by the NFL and the Players Association. The Commissioner himself could have heard the appeal from his own decision, but he chose not to. Henderson was the Commissioner’s designee.