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Ravens players' union rep Chris Canty saddened by NFL-NFLPA discord

Ravens defensive lineman Chris Canty thinks the NFL and NFLPA are both responsible for discord surrounding league disciplinary decisions.
Ravens defensive lineman Chris Canty thinks the NFL and NFLPA are both responsible for discord surrounding league disciplinary decisions. (Kevin Richardson / The Baltimore Sun)

The battleground between the NFL and the NFL Players Association has grown more contentious with each passing week.

Between domestic violence incidents involving indefinitely suspended former Ravens running back Ray Rice and Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy and an ugly child-abuse case that prompted the NFL to suspend Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, the league and the players' union are involved in a series of disputes.

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The players' union has accused NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and the league office of making up the rules as they go along and reacting to each latest public-relations crisis by increasing punishments.

In the case of Rice, Goodell initially suspended him for two games for knocking out his then-fiancee in a casino elevator. He then increased the punishment when a graphic video surfaced of Rice knocking out Janay Palmer at Revel Casino. Rice appealed the discipline and is awaiting former federal judge Barbara S. Jones' ruling.

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Peterson was initially placed on the commissioner's exempt list, which was the equivalent of a paid suspension. Goodell then suspended him without pay after Peterson pleaded no contest to misdemeanor child-abuse charges.

The NFL is working on revisions to its personal-conduct policy, but the players' union wants significant input and has asked that any changes to the rulebook be collectively bargained.

All of the discord and saber-rattling between the two sides has been disappointing to Ravens veteran defensive end Chris Canty, the team's elected union representative.

"It's unfortunate because we've got a great game," Canty told The Baltimore Sun. "It shouldn't be an adversarial relationship between the NFL Players Association and the league office. I think we should be working together to find ways to improve the game to get the very best product for our fans. It's sad that's where the state of things are, it really is, and both sides are responsible for it.

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"I think it should be a clear policy and guys should understand the process and understand the consequences of particular actions. The union and the league office have to work together to make that something that's fair and something that's understood. We've got to take a proactive approach rather than be reactive."

While many league sources have predicted Rice will be reinstated, there's plenty of doubt about whether he will play this season. The conventional wisdom states that the three-time Pro Bowl running back is more likely to be signed by an NFL team during the offseason.

Canty said he thinks Rice deserves another shot.

"I think we're a country that believes in second chances," Canty said. "America's game should reflect that. I think that, hopefully, there will be an opportunity for him. I think there should be an opportunity for him.

"Certainly, he's had his day in court with the legal process and that's run its course with the appeal hearing. That situation is ongoing. The ruling is expected. We'll see where it stands. I do think he should have a second chance in the National Football League."

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