Super Bowl champion and nine-time Pro Bowler Drew Brees stopped by CBS Sports Radio on Wednesday to discuss his team, his career, and his relationship with Roger Goodell.
Brees felt the commissioner’s wrath, or at least the effects of it, after Bountygate in 2012, when Sean Payton was suspended for the entire season. Brees has since seen the league address various issues – Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and Deflategate, to name a few – and it’s safe to say that he, as well as many other players around the league, don’t trust the commissioner. In fact, it’s possible that the relationship between the league and its players has never been more combative.
“I certainly don’t feel like things should be as contentious as they are,” Brees said on Tiki and Tierney. “Having been on the NFLPA Executive Committee for eight years and being a part of those negotiations back in 2011, I feel like I’ve got some interesting perspective, and then obviously going through the Bountygate debacle here and then seeing how that carried over to the way things were conducted with Deflategate and then the Ray Rice issue, it’s unfortunate because I feel like the league has lost so much trust from players and just the public in the way that they’ve handled these investigations, the lack of transparency. They’re certainly in a position where nobody believes anything that comes out of the league office right now as it pertains to really much of anything. You always feel like there’s an agenda at play and nobody’s ever telling you the truth. So, I think that’s the real issue here, the lack of trust.”
That problem has many solutions.
“Well,” Brees said, “I think as it pertains to commissioner discipline, I think it’s very obvious now that when there’s an investigation and there’s discipline handed down that there needs to be some kind of third-party, neutral person or entity involved so that it’s not decisions being made behind closed doors. (The league says) ’Hey, trust us. (Trust) what we found or the results of this investigation.’ We’ve found that we really can’t trust that.”
Brees does not feel that Goodell should have the power to be judge, jury and executioner for disciplinary matters, and that will be a hotly debated point of contention after the current CBA expires after the 2020 season.
“I don’t know if anything gets changed between now and the next CBA negotiations,” Brees said. “Obviously, that will be a great point of interest when they do come around, but that’s five years away. It’s just unfortunate when so many players, so many people, so many fans come out and say negative things about the league and about the commissioner based upon recent history here because that’s not the type of relationship you want to have. I think we, as players, always have felt like this should be a partnership between players and union that’s governed by this collective bargaining agreement that we all agreed to. There should be compromises. It should be fair for both sides. I just don’t feel like we’re ever in a position as players where we’re really fighting a fair fight.”