Yes, the battery charges against Bills offensive line coach Aaron Kromer were dropped. No, that doesn’t matter to the NFL.
The Bills have announced that Kromer will be suspended for the first six regular-season games of 2015.
“Over the past several weeks the Bills organization has gathered information regarding the incident involving offensive line coach Aaron Kromer,” Bills president Russ Brandon said in a statement. “Today we have concluded our investigation and the Buffalo Bills will suspend Coach Kromer without pay for the first six games of the 2015 NFL regular season. The suspension will begin on Monday, September 7, 2015 and end with the conclusion of the Buffalo Bills vs. Cincinnati Bengals game on October 18, 2015.
“We worked in conjunction with the NFL on this matter and we are highly supportive of the NFL Personal Conduct Policy that holds all NFL and club employees to a higher standard.
“We look forward to Coach Kromer rejoining the Bills organization at training camp.”
The six-game suspension matches the new baseline punishment for crimes of violence under the Revised Personal Conduct Policy. Even though Kromer ultimately will face no criminal punishment (the charges against him recently were dropped, possibly in exchange for a civil settlement), the NFL applies a higher standard to its employees — along with a much lower standard of proof.
It means, as a practical matter, that the Bills believe Kromer did indeed punch a teenage boy in a beach-chair dispute, under the “more likely than not” test that doesn’t require proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
Via Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News, the Bills are considering donating the full amount of the money they won’t be paying Kromer to charity.
It’s unclear whether Kromer has waived his appeal rights. Even if he decides to pursue them, it will be very difficult for him to successfully fight the punishment, since he’s not protected by a Collective Bargaining Agreement.
The fact that the Bills imposed the six-game suspension highlights a key difference between a team’s rights against a coach and a team’s rights against a player. Under the Personal Conduct Policy, only the NFL may impose discipline. Also, a franchise’s options are limited to cutting the player or imposing a maximum suspension of four games without pay for conduct detrimental to the team.