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NFLPA: “Massive step backwards” in talks on Goodell’s disciplinary role

Carolina Panthers v Baltimore Ravens

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 28: DeMaurice Smith (L), Executive Director of the NFLPA, speaks with Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti (R) before a game against the Carolina Panthers at M&T Bank Stadium on September 28, 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)

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When NFL commissioner Roger Goodell spoke to the media at the league meetings in Florida on Wednesday, he said that the league and the NFL Players Association were “not close” to an agreement about changes to his role in player discipline under the personal conduct policy.

According to NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, they were a closer before a “dramatic change of course” from the league. In an email to the union’s executive committee obtained by Jim Trotter of ESPN, Smith wrote that the change represented “a massive step backwards from where negotiations stood several weeks ago.”

Smith writes that the league’s proposal includes a “new position” that “neutral arbitration is NOT a part of this negotiation” and Smith’s emphasis makes a point of how much of a problem that would be after the union’s spent years arguing in favor of more neutral arbitration in the disciplinary process. The NFL has been just as adamant on the other side of the issue.

The email also outlines disagreements on two other points. Per Smith, the NFLPA “gave tentative approval” to a league idea that three former judges serve as a jointly selected arbitration panel but that idea is not included in the most recent proposal.

Smith also says the league wants teams to be able to ask a player to go on the exempt list -- which was used with Adrian Peterson and Greg Hardy and allows players to be paid while not playing -- with “no limitations, not based on allegations of violent crimes.” He calls that idea “entirely too broad.”

In short, it doesn’t sound like the league and union agree on much outside of the fact that an agreement on changes to Goodell’s power isn’t just around the corner.