NEW YORK (CBS SPORTS) – One of the more discussed topics in the NFL remains commissioner power. It is a fascinating subject and will remain so for years. You can see how passionate this topic has become in the NFL Players Association legal brief supporting Saints players in the Bountygate case. The brief, filed this week, can be read in its entirety here.

It’s a fascinating brief and takes you deep inside this fight. It isn’t shy about calling the notion of Roger Goodell as an independent arbitrator a sham. “…the record is unambiguous that the Commissioner has rendered himself evidently partial by choosing to engage in a comprehensive publicity campaign against the Players,” the brief states, “making it clear that their fair treatment will be secondary to the NFL’s own agenda about making a public statement against (non-existent) bounties.”

So, there’s that. As the Saints case continues to wind through the civil court system, the issue of Goodell’s power is discussed extensively in NFL locker rooms, among agents, teams and obviously the NFL offices on Park Avenue. That’s because there are huge stakes in this argument that can affect play on the field.

“Players have one eye on football and one eye on what’s happening with the fight against Roger,” said one Pro Bowl player to me.

What this brief and other actions from the union and players show is that players view the court system as counter to Goodell’s authority.

If players are successful at using the courts to challenge the commissioner, it could dramatically shift the balance of power between the players and NFL.

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