Pennel files lawsuit against NFL, NFLPA

Ryan Wood
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Green Bay Packers defensive end Mike Pennel (64) during training camp at Ray Nitschke Field.

GREEN BAY - Defensive tackle Mike Pennel filed a lawsuit in Ohio federal court against the NFL and NFL Players Association after an apparent second suspension that reportedly is pending for a violation of the league’s substance-abuse policy.

The Green Bay Packers' third-year player states in court documents the arbitrator presiding over his disciplinary process with the league was “improperly assigned” and asks for proceedings to be delayed until a third-party arbitrator joins the case.

Pennel alleges the league and general council “failed to abide by the arbitrator selection and assignment provisions and procedure set forth in the attached arbitration agreement” after learning about his suspension Nov. 8. An appeal hearing is scheduled for Dec. 6.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer first reported the lawsuit Tuesday.

Earlier Tuesday, NFL Network reported Pennel was receiving a second suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. Pennel missed the first four games of 2016 with a suspension for violating the policy. A second violation carries a suspension of at least six games and as many as 10, according to the league’s bylaws.

Pennel is the second player to file suit against the league after being informed of a substance-abuse violation. Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle Lane Johnson filed suit with the National Labor Relations Board regarding his 10-game suspension.

Coach Mike McCarthy said he was first made aware of the lawsuit Tuesday.

“That’s a league legal issue,” McCarthy said, “and I really don’t have a comment on it.”

Pennel was expected to be a starter early in the offseason, but he hasn't recovered after missing the season’s first month. He has four tackles in seven games, a quarter of his total from last season.

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