NFLPA Says NFL’s New Personal Conduct Policy Is Another Unilateral Action by the League

NFL teams unanimously endorsed a revised Personal Conduct Policy for all league employees that was presented at today’s league meeting in Dallas.

The policy was said by the league to have been developed after “extensive” meetings and discussions in the past four months, with experts both inside and outside the NFL, such as current and former players, the NFL Players Association (NFLPA), domestic violence/sexual assault experts and advocates, officials from law enforcement, experts from academia, business leaders.

Among the parties the NFL has talked to in the development of the personal conduct policy include Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, University of Texas head football coach Charlie Strong, NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent, former NFL linebacker Mike Singletary, and New York Police Department Commissioner Bill Bratton.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell called the policy “enhanced”, stating that it is “significantly more robust, thorough and formal”.


“We now have a layered evaluation process to take into account a diversity of expert views,” said Goodell. “This will better enable us to make appropriate decisions and ensure accountability for everyone involved in the process.”

The policy states, in part, that it is a “privilege” to be part of the NFL, and that everyone “must regrain from conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the NFL,” including owners, coaches, players, and team employees.

“Conduct by anyone in the league that is illegal, violent or irresponsible puts innocent victims at risk, damages the reputation of others in the game, and undercuts public respect and support for the NFL,” the policy stated. “We must endeavor at all times to be people of high character; we must show respect for others inside and outside our workplace; and we must strive to conduct ourselves in ways that favorably reflect on ourselves, our teams, the communities we represent, and the NFL.”

The key elements of the personal conduct policy include education, counseling, and therapeutic resources for prevention, support services for victims and families, reporting obligations for club and league management, additional expert  investigatory resources being retained, the league retaining the option to conduct independent investigations at all times, and the rest of the following:

  • Specific criteria for paid leave for an individual formally charged with a crime of violence, including domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse.
  • An expert group of outside advisors to review and evaluate potential violations and consult on other elements of the policy.
  • A baseline suspension of six games without pay for violations involving assault, battery, domestic violence, dating violence, child abuse, other forms of family violence, or sexual assault, with consideration given to possible mitigating or aggravating circumstances.
  • The appointment by the commissioner of a highly qualified league office executive with a criminal justice background to issue initial discipline. The disciplinary officer will be hired for a newly created position of Special Counsel for Investigations and Conduct. This individual will oversee the NFL’s investigatory procedures and determine discipline for violations of the Personal Conduct Policy. For players, this is consistent with past practice under the CBA in which a member of the commissioner’s staff has generally issued discipline for off-field misconduct.
  • An appeals process pursuant to Article 46 (Commissioner Discipline) of the Collective Bargaining Agreement for players or to applicable club or league procedures for non-players. The commissioner may name a panel that consists of independent experts to participate in deciding an appeal.
  • The appointment by Commissioner Goodell of a new league Conduct Committee comprised of representatives of NFL ownership that will review the policy at least annually and recommend appropriate changes with advice from outside experts. The committee will ensure that the policy remains current and consistent with best practices and evolving legal and social standards. Members of the committee are Cardinals owner Michael Bidwell (committee chair), Falcons owner Arthur Blank, Chiefs owner Clark Hunt, Dee Haslam (wife of Browns owner Jimmy Haslam), Cowboys Executive Vice President and chair of The NFL Foundation Charlotte Jones Anderson, Bears owner George McCaskey, Texans owner Robert McNair, and two former NFL players that are part of NFL ownership Warrick Dunn (Falcons) and John Stallworth (Steelers).

While the league’s statement indicates that they had advice from the NFLPA, the players’ union issued concerns about what the league was going to do with the personal conduct policy on a conference all yesterday.

From NFLPA President Eric Winston:

From NFLPA Assistant Executive Director of External Affairs at the NFLPA:

Before the announcement of the new personal conduct policy today, Atallah continued to express his concerns.

Shortly after the announcement was made, the NFLPA released a statement saying they had not seen what the personal conduct policy before it was released to the public:

“Our union has not been offered the professional courtesy of seeing the NFL’s new personal conduct policy before it hit the presses. Their unilateral decision and conduct today is the only thing that has been consistent over the past few months.”


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