With more young players than ever entering the NFL Draft, the NFL wants to head off some of the problem children before they play a down in the league.
The league’s player engagement chief, Troy Vincent, is proposing a plan that would develop an “Early Intervention Program” for players with prior legal problems before they get to the league.
The goal of the program is to “reduce future conduct issues through establishing a process … where conduct standards are communicated to prospective pre-Draft NFL players,” the proposal said, according to Eric Adelson of Yahoo Sports.
“When a player has issues with firearms, domestic violence, felony arrests, or DUIs, his impact as an athlete and as a citizen is minimized and his risks are maximized,” Vincent said. “We want to reverse that so he can be a productive member of his team as a player and to society long after his playing experience.”
While the league already has the rookie symposium in place, this is a more targeted effort to reach guys who might need help before they get to the league.
“We are not attempting to punish at all,” Vincent said. “We are seeking to establish employment standards and provide a path to those who struggle with unacceptable challenges so that they might be successful.”
Of course, it’s hard to compel someone to a workplace program before they get to the workplace, so it might not be able to reach the players who need it the most. Especially if held before the draft, some agents and players might be rightfully hesitant to identify themselves in advance, lest their draft stock fall.