Roger Goodell could be stripped of his power to discipline players

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NFL, NFLPA Working on Deal to Strip Roger Goodell of Disciplinary Power


NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wields tremendous power to discipline NFL players, both doling out punishment and overseeing potential appeals. But he's also been criticized harshly for the way he's handled some of the league's recent high-profile cases, and has said himself that the league needs a "better discipline system." Such a system could be on the way: The Wall Street Journal reports that the NFL and the NFL Players Association are making progress toward an agreement that would strip Goodell of his power to punish players for off-the-field incidents.

The paper notes that no deal has been reached yet and that obstacles remain, but NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith says he's optimistic a deal will get done. The Journal reports that one replacement system being discussed would involve a panel of three neutral arbitrators — made up of lawyers or former judges with some background in football — that would serve as hearing officers.

RELATED GALLERY: See photos of Roger Goodell through the years

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Roger Goodell could be stripped of his power to discipline players
Roger Goodell, executive vice-president of the NFL, hears the translation from a headphone during a news conference in Mexico City, Mexico on Friday July 15, 2005. The conference was held to announce the the first NFL regular-season game abroad that will take place next Oct. 2 in Mexico City between the San Francisco 49ers and the Arizona Cardinals.(AP Photo/Jaime Lopez)
Roger Goodell, the NFL's chief operating officer talks to the media after being selected to succeed Paul Tagliabue as the league's commissioner Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2006 at a NFL meeting in Northbrook Ill. Goodell will assume the duties of commissioner when Tagliabue officially retires prior the the start of this year's regualr NFL season. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
Roger Goodell, right, the NFL's chief operating officer talks to the media after being selected to succeed Paul Tagliabue, left, as the league's commissioner Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2006 at an NFL meeting in Northbrook Ill. Goodell will assume the duties of commissioner when Tagliabue officially retires prior the the start of this year's regualr NFL season. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
Roger Goodell, the NFL's chief operating officer, center, is escorted into a press conference after being selected to succeed Paul Tagliabue, background right, as the league's commissioner Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2006 at a NFL meeting in Northbrook Ill. Goodell will assume the duties of commissioner when Tagliabue officially retires prior the the start of this year's regular NFL season. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
** FILE ** Roger Goodell, left, the NFL's chief operating officer, and Paul Tagliabue, NFL commissioner, pose for photos after Goodell was selected to succeed Tagliabue as the league's new commissioner in this Aug. 8, 2006 file photo, at an NFL meeting in Northbrook Ill.. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green,file)
Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the NFL, pauses before answering a question during a news conference at the NFL annual meetings Monday, March 26, 2007, at the Arizona Biltmore resort in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, center, greets New York Giants' Tiki Barber (21) and Michael Strahan at Giants football practice Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2006, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks at a news conference, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2006, in Cincinnati, at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, where a new exhibit on the reintegration of pro football has recently opened. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)
Roger Goodell, commissioner of the National Football League, talks during an interview at The Associated Press Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2006 in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell addresses the media after meeting with the Detroit Lions organization at their football training facility in Allen Park, Mich., Thursday, Aug. 16, 2007. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Former Chicago Bears head coach Mike Ditka, right, accompanied by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, center, and National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) Executive Director Gene Upshaw, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2007, before the Senate Commerce Committee hearing on the National Football League Retirement System. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, left, listens, as Roger Goodell, commissioner of the National Football League, speaks to members of the House Regulated Industries Committee Monday, Dec. 10, 2007, in Austin, Texas. State lawmakers heard from the NFL and cable operators regarding the dispute between the NFL and cable companies. (AP Photo/Harry Cabluck)
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell signs some at Lambeau Field before an NFL football playoff game between the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday, Jan. 12, 2008, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)
National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell after meeting with Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., in Washington Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2008 on Capitol Hill. (AP Photo/Dennis Cook)
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, center, presents the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award to Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner before the NFL Super Bowl XLIII football game, Sunday, Feb. 1, 2009, in Tampa, Fla. Payton's widow, Connie, left, looks on. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, left, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2009, before a House Judiciary Committee hearing on legal issues relating to football head injuries. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
FILE - In this Oct. 28, 2009 file photo, NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith, right, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sit at the witness table on Capitol Hill in Washington. The NFL Players Association has filed a complaint Wednesday, May 23, 2012, in federal court accusing the league of colluding to impose a secret salary cap during the uncapped 2010 season. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)
NFL Commisioner Roger Goodell answers reporters questions during his visit to the NFL football team's training camp in Latrobe, Pa. Thursday, Aug. 5, 2010. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell talks with the media during his visit to the Philadelphia Eagles afternoon session of NFL football training camp at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. on Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2010. (AP Photo/Rich Schultz)
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell answers a question during a news conference at the NFL football Super Bowl XLV Media Center in Dallas, Friday, Feb. 4, 2011. The Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers will face each other in Super Bowl XLV Sunday. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell steps out to talk with the media after football labor negotiations with the NFL players' association involving a federal mediator, Friday, March 4, 2011, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
New York Giants Chairman and Executive Vice President Steve Tisch, left, and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, center, talk with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell before his news conference Friday, Feb. 3, 2012, in Indianapolis. The New England Patriots will face the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI on Feb. 5. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
FILE - In this March 11, 2013, file photo, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell takes questions during a news conference in New York. Marijuana is casting an ever-thickening haze across NFL locker rooms, and it's not simply because more players are using it. As attitudes toward the drug soften, and science slowly teases out marijuana's possible benefits for concussions and other injuries, the NFL is reaching a critical point in navigating its tenuous relationship with what is being recognized, more and more, as the analgesic of choice for many of its players. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
NFL football commissioner Roger Goodell takes questions during a news conference at the Arizona Biltmore, Monday, March 18, 2013, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell answers questions during a news conference at the NFL football annual meeting in Orlando, Fla., Monday, March 24, 2014. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell present the Walter Payton NFL man of the year award, presented by Nationwide, on stage at the 4th annual NFL Honors at the Phoenix Convention Center Symphony Hall on Saturday, Jan. 1, 2015. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Invision for NFL/AP Images)
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell participates in AOL's BUILD Speaker Series at AOL Studios on Tuesday, May 5, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell leaves Federal court in New York, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015. Last-minute settlement talks between lawyers for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady have failed, leaving a judge to decide the fate of "Deflategate." (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell arrives at federal court, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015, in New York. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Goodell are set to explain to a judge why a controversy over underinflated footballs at last season's AFC conference championship game is spilling into a new season.(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 12: National Football League (NFL) Commissioner Roger Goodell leaves federal court after defending his decision to suspend New England PatriotsÕ quarterback Tom Brady for four games after it was decided Brady knew about deflated footballs used in last yearÕs NFL season on August 12, 2015 in New York City. Brady is challenging the suspension in federal court in the hopes of playing the first four games of the 2015 season (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
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"We've been talking about changes to the personal conduct policy since October and have traded proposals," Smith told the paper. "We looked at the league's proposal for neutral arbitration. There is a common ground for us to get something done."

Goodell — whose decisions in the cases of Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, and Tom Brady were all overturned either in court or by an arbitrator — said last September that he was open to changing his role in the process. "It's become extremely time-consuming, and I have to be focused on other issues," he told ESPN Radio. Goodell said at the time that any change would involve the way an initial decision is reached, and not the way appeals are handled.

See photos from the Deflategate saga:

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Roger Goodell could be stripped of his power to discipline players
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 12: New England Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady arrives at federal court to appeal the National Football League's (NFL) decision to suspend him for four games of the 2015 season on August 12, 2015 in New York City. The NFL alleges that Brady knew footballs used in one of last season's games was deflated below league standards, making it easier to handle. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady arrives at federal court, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015, in New York. Brady and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell are set to explain to a judge why a controversy over underinflated footballs at last season's AFC conference championship game is spilling into a new season. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Christopher Russell, of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Enid Peralta, of Queens, N.Y., wear deflated football hats outside federal court, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015, in New York. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell are set to explain to a judge why a controversy over underinflated footballs at last season's AFC conference championship game is spilling into a new season.(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
A fan wearing a "Free Brady" T-shirt stands outside federal court, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015, in New York. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell are set to explain to a judge why a controversy over underinflated footballs at last season's AFC conference championship game is spilling into a new season.(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell arrives at federal court, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015, in New York. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Goodell are set to explain to a judge why a controversy over underinflated footballs at last season's AFC conference championship game is spilling into a new season.(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell arrives at federal court, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015, in New York. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Goodell are set to explain to a judge why a controversy over underinflated footballs at last season's AFC conference championship game is spilling into a new season.(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady arrives at federal court, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015, in New York. Brady and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell are set to explain to a judge why a controversy over underinflated footballs at last season's AFC conference championship game is spilling into a new season.(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Former Tom Brady fan Christopher Russell, of Brooklyn, N.Y., gestures outside federal court, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015, in New York. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell are set to explain to a judge why a controversy over underinflated footballs at last season's AFC conference championship game is spilling into a new season.(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
People wearing hats in the shape of deflated footballs gather outside a federal courthouse in New York, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015. New England quarterback Tom Brady and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell are set to explain to a judge why a controversy over underinflated footballs at last season's AFC conference championship game is spilling into a new season. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
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Smith said that any agreement would have to settle ongoing appeals of decisions reached under the current system. "It's a player decision with what they want to do, but I can't imagine there is any appetite to agree with any proposal that doesn't wrap up all the litigation," he said. "We can either continue to litigate or reach a collectively bargained conclusion."


In a statement, an NFL spokesperson said that "This is an important area that deserves to be addressed thoughtfully and with full consideration for everyone's interests — players, clubs and fans. We are addressing the subject in a serious way and will continue to discuss this directly with the union and not in the media."

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