Lane Johnson Files Suit Against NFL, NFLPA

Eagles offensive tackle Lane Johnson continues to contest the 10-game suspension the NFL handed him back in August for violating its policy on performance-enhancing substances. Johnson has filed a suit in federal court against both the league and the NFLPA, according to Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com (Twitter link). The 26-year-old wants the court to vacate his penalties.

Lane Johnson (vertical)

This is the next step in a long fight for Johnson, who unsuccessfully appealed his ban earlier in the season and sat out from mid-October until early December as a result. Not only did the suspension cost Johnson most of the season, but he also lost 10 weeks of his $675K base salary and $1.5MM of his $10MM signing bonus. Worse, it voided the $25MM in guarantees remaining on Johnson’s contract. He’ll still be able to earn that money, but he’ll have to do it on a year-to-year basis if the court doesn’t rule in his favor.

Between the failed appeal and Friday’s decision, Johnson elected in November to file charges against both the league and the union with the National Labor Relations Board. He also filed a claim against the NFLPA with the Department of Labor.

“During Lane’s appeal, it became apparent that the written words in the collectively bargained Performance-Enhancing Substances (“PES”) Policy, under which Lane was disciplined, are meaningless,” attorney Steve Zashin stated at the time. “The PES Policy, as written, guarantees rights, protections and due process to players in recognition of the enormous consequences of discipline. The NFL and the NFLPA have undermined these protections leaving the players -including Lane — with a hollowed-out process devoid of any protections. The actions of the NFL and NFLPA violate federal law.”

Johnson maintains that he unknowingly took a tainted amino acid, which led to the failed drug test over the summer, and has argued that the NFLPA’s Aegis Shield app did not flag the supplement he took. He’s also irked that only two arbitrators handled his case, which seemingly violates the league’s collective bargaining agreement. According to the CBA, three to five arbitrators should’ve been assigned. Zashin reiterated that Friday and added that one of the arbitrators was affiliated with the league, creating a conflict of interest (Twitter link). While Zashin didn’t name the arbitrator, he was alluding to James Carter, who oversaw the league’s Ray Rice investigation in 2014.

Notably, the suspension Johnson served in 2016 wasn’t his first. He previously sat four games in 2014 after testing positive for PEDs.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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8 comments on “Lane Johnson Files Suit Against NFL, NFLPA

  1. Filing a lawsuit will get him exactly nowhere. He should know this being in a union that union contracts supercede federal law. It’s considered a negotiated medium and therefore not bound by federal laws. Ask anyone that’s ever been a union officer,or in a union. He’s gonna lose. This is the reason the NFL always wins in court. Players agreed and signed this negotiated deal.

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    • Aaron

      This isn’t a union dispute. If you didn’t notice he’s sueing the union as well. If the deal signed by the players wasn’t adhered to, that would absolutely be subject to federal law. Abiding by contractual agreements goes both ways

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  2. Toksoon

    Don’t cheat and you won’t have these problems

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    • Polish Hammer

      He didn’t cheat. He bought an OTC supplement and reached out to the NFLPA to verify it was legit as they offer. They claim he didn’t follow their process, he claims he did.

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  3. muttonman

    The NFL’s PED policy is a joke. According to the NFLPA and Johnson, the “PED’s” that he used were obtained legally, over the counter, from GNC. In fact, the substance which earned him his first suspension is now legal. Tell me how a supplement that every player has legal access to is illegal in the NFL?

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    • Aaron

      First of all, the first substance he tested positive for is in no way legal unless you have a prescription. Adderall (aka amphetamine) is prescribed for ADHD and is a schedule 2 drug in the US (same as cocaine, morphine, etc.,). It was re-classified by the NFL and is just no longer considered a “performance enhancing drug”. And while I agree a lot of the policy is flawed, it is entirely possible to ingest banned substances unknowingly in over the counter supplements as the supplement industry all but entirely unregulated. It’s not uncommon for supplements to contain ingredients not listed on the label, and there are many documented examples of this. It is up to the players to have everything tested independently before ingesting, and if I know this the players have at least been told this. What I want to know is, what did exactly test positive for? Peptides are just small compounds made up of various chains of amino acids (building blocks of protein. Think glucose or other simple sugars and carbohydrates) and ca and can refer to many different things, some of which can be used as PEDs. Funny that he took what he thought were just amino acids and tested positive for peptides, which are made up of amino acids. Easy cover for supplement companies to promote their “state of the art” new supplement labeled with legal ingredients but contain known peds which are peptide compounds. Either this is the case, he lied, or somehow a chemical reaction occurred between the amino acids in the supplement which formed the illegal peptide (extremely unlikely).

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  4. Polish Hammer

    Funny but the FDA digs their noses in everything and regulates everything, but do nothing about most products sold OTC in places like GNC.

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    • Aaron

      No money in that

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