Tom Brady and the NFLPA may have been denied the opportunity to have their case against the NFL reheard by the Second Circuit, but that doesn't seem to have hurt the union's resolve when it comes to its efforts at changing the status quo.
Not only has the NFLPA left the door open to continue to pursue Brady's case at the Supreme Court level -- even though Brady has said that he will no longer continue on with the legal process -- but the union has said multiple times over the last week that the system in place for player discipline in the NFL is, essentially, broken.
NFLPA president Eric Winston joined "The Opening Drive" on Sirius XM Rush with Ross Tucker and Mike Nolan on Wednesday, and he reiterated that sentiment when discussing Tom Brady's case and what it means for the relationship between the players and the league.
"The system isn't where it should be right now," said Winston, an offensive lineman who is currently under contract with the Bengals. "The system isn't perfect, the system isn't fair or transparent. I think the one thing that has been lost in this conversation is how much does this affect the competitive balance throughout the league.
"The NFL's always so big on competitive balance, but you see these random suspensions that have been handed down over the last two-three years, it's definitely affected competitive balance. I think that's the real negative part of it, obviously, just for an everyday football fan. Even if you don't care about discipline or fairness or transparency or any of that other stuff that's been commonly used in these arbitration cases, it affects competitive balance. Your team could be playing with a guy that should've been out there that wasn't out there . . . That's the one thing that I think has kind of been lost in this conversation."
Whether the union will continue to fight Brady's case by petitioning to the Supreme Court, or whether Article 46 and the commissioner's powers will become a sticking point during collective bargaining talks going forward, Winston maintained that something has to change.
"Even when we won at the district court level, I said, 'We're not where we should be with this.' The system isn't what we want it to be," Winston said. "Let's try to fix it. Let's try to do some good. I'm still at the same place even though ultimately we didn't win this one. The system is bad. It's not good for football. So what are we going to do to try to change it?
"Unfortunately there hasn't been a lot of things that they've been willing to do. Until that happens, you're not going to have player buy-in on it, you're going to have a lot of people upset becuse nobody knows what's going on, and that's the way it is.
"Unfortunately we got other sports that have figured it out, but for whatever reason, we haven't. Until that happens we're gonna keep having a league that isn't as good as it could be."