With Bears guard Lance Louis recently pleading guilty to misdemeanor battery, the NFL faces an unusual situation with respect to its Personal Conduct Policy. The behavior occurred before Louis entered the league, while he was a member of the San Diego State football team. But charges were filed after he was drafted.
It has been our understanding that, in the wake of the case of Bengal defensive end Frostee Rucker, the league decided that it will not impose discipline for incidents occurring before the player enters the NFL. NFL spokesman Dan Masonson tells us that the Louis situation currently is being reviewed, which suggests that a bright-line rule of that nature has not yet been adopted.
The distinction arises from whether the Personal Conduct Policy is aimed at addressing behavior, or whether it is intended to respond to the filing of charges. In our view, the charges are irrelevant; the question is whether the player allegedly has violated the law after he joined the league. For any pre-draft misbehavior, teams can impose their own loose discipline by passing over him in one or more rounds, or by not drafting the player at all.
Until this issue is settled — and the union should be pushing hard for a rule that insulates players from all pre-draft misconduct — players who find trouble (or vice-versa) in college should push to get the matter fully resolved before the player enters the NFL.