The widest of wide-open Most Valuable Player races will inject some much needed drama into the next six months.
San Antonio throttling Golden State by 29 points in the first real game for the Warriors’ Fab Four should have been the first hint that the 2016-17 regular season might not be the straightforward snoozefest so many folks fear.
Another reason to tune into the 82-game prelude to the playoffs: How else are we going to figure out who in the heck should win the Maurice Podoloff Trophy?
DeflateGate ceased being about deflated footballs long ago, and the probability of the NFLPA continuing its legal fight affirms that. Even though Tom Brady announced he will no longer fight his suspension, the Players’ Association still has a strong incentive to try to get this case in front of the Supreme Court.
When a federal judge overturned Brady’s suspension last fall, it seemed as if the NFLPA was on the verge of wrestling away disciplinary power from Goodell. The commissioner was on a losing streak, suffering a series of high-profile legal losses, as neutral arbitrators and judges vacated the BountyGate player suspensions in addition to the Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson bans (the NFL is currently appealing the Peterson ruling). An arbitrator whittled down Greg Hardy’s suspension from 10 games to four contests last year as well.
The union has 90 days to petition the Supreme Court, and would likely argue that the ruling in this case could have far-reaching effects for the future of the NFL.
Though the chances of the Supreme Court accepting the NFLPA’s appeal are slim, there’s no downside to the union exhausting all of its legal options. If the Eighth Circuit rules against the NFL in the Peterson case, the Supreme Court may feel compelled to hold hearings, as there would be a split decision in the circuit courts regarding the scope of Goodell’s authority to hand down discipline.
With the rule of law now on his side, Goodell almost certainly wouldn’t cede any of his punitive power without a major concession from the players. Since the disciplinary process only affects a small percentage of players, it’s unlikely that the NFLPA would be willing to give up something that benefits all of its members –– such as decreasing the total percentage of revenue that players receive –– in exchange for placating a select few. The union doesn’t have many bargaining chips at this point.
Something else that figures to be in play for the Warriors: 90 points in a half.
We haven’t seen that since 1990, when the Suns — with a rookie out of Cal State Fullerton named Cedric Ceballos rumbling for 32 points in 23 minutes — erupted for 107 points in the first two quarters in an unforgettable 173-143 trouncing of the Denver Nuggets.
But the Warriors will settle for a win total in the low 60s.