Owners’ Group Says Winslow Suspension OK
One day after the NFL Players’ Assn. challenged the Chargers’ suspension of tight end Kellen Winslow, the NFL Management Council said Thursday the team has the power to suspend Winslow indefinitely.
The Chargers suspended Winslow Monday when he told them he didn’t think he would be able to play this year because of a deteriorating right knee. They told him that because he had passed their physical exam, they expected him to play this year.
The Chargers offered to pay Winslow half of his $795,000 guaranteed 1988 salary if he retired. He said no thanks, drawing the suspension.
The controversy gained national attention Wednesday when Gene Upshaw, the NFLPA’s executive director, said the Chargers had “no grounds” to suspend Winslow. He said the union will consider suing over the matter even if Winslow does not.
At the heart of Upshaw’s argument was his contention that the 1982 Collective Bargaining Agreement, which expired Aug. 31, 1987, is no longer in effect. When the Chargers cited the Collective Bargaining Agreement after suspending Winslow, Upshaw said, it was meaningless.
The Management Council, which represents the interests of NFL team owners, maintains the provisions of the agreement are still in effect until a judge declares dormant negotiations on a new contract to be at an impasse. Under the provisions of the CBA, Winslow would have to file a grievance that would be settled by an arbitrator.
“And even if a judge declares an impasse, there’s a provision in the standard player contract that says Commissioner Pete Rozelle would then become the binding arbitrator,” said Dennis Curran, the management council’s director of operations.
Under that thinking, until Winslow files a grievance or wins a court case against the Chargers, they can continue to suspend him without pay, once a month, until they are satisfied he is no longer a discipline problem. They can also fine him an amount not to exceed one game check a month.
Steve Ortmayer, the Chargers’ director of football operations, met for the second time in two days Thursday with Jim Steiner, Winslow’s agent, but reported no progress.
The team upgraded linebackers Billy Ray Smith (calf) and Gary Plummer (thigh) from questionable to probable on the weekly injury report filed with the league office. Defensive lineman Les Miller (ankle) hasn’t responded to treatment and was downgraded from questionable to doubtful for Sunday’s season opener against the Raiders in Los Angeles.