Goodell's authority to be part of talks

The NFL players' union wants to talk about commissioner Roger Goodell's power to discipline players when talks on a new collective bargaining agreement begin, union chief executive DeMaurice Smith said, according to USA Today.

Goodell has presided over a number of high-profile suspensions as commissioner in enforcing the league's player conduct policy. The latest of those came Monday, when he conditionally reinstated ex-Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, making him eligible to sign with a team and play by Week 6 if Vick's return goes according to plan.

But the amount of authority Goodell wields under the conduct policy -- which was written with the assistance of NFL players and late union executive director Gene Upshaw -- has raised concerns among players.

"That's something that's very important to the players that we intend to raise," Smith said, according to the report. "You will increase the understanding of fairness if people are involved in a way that they understand why.

"If you imagined a world where our court systems were not public and people meted out justice and all you heard was what the result was, well, they might even get the decision right -- but there would be a sense that it wasn't fair because you couldn't see why things were," Smith said, the newspaper reported. "I think that same underlying philosophy is true here."

In the Vick case, Goodell reached his decision with the input of Smith and current and former players.

"It's long been a subject of negotiations," Goodell said Monday, according to the report. "But I believe I have been responsible with my authority. It's important to have somebody who can make the best decisions on behalf of the league and the game. I do that with a great deal of consideration of everyone involved in the league."