NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says he’s open to change on the way the league handles player discipline.
Goodell noted on Friday that the owners and the players’ union negotiated for the current rules that give the commissioner wide latitude on discipline, and that any changes would have to be renegotiated. But Goodell said he’d at least consider that.
“We’re open to changes in the way we do discipline, but we negotiated for a system in 2011,” Goodell said. “It was a system that was quite similar for decades prior to that in collective bargaining agreements prior to that. It is almost exactly the same when it comes to protecting the integrity of the game and the Commissioner’s authority. I am certainly open to that.”
Still, Goodell believes the current personal conduct policy is working, as evidenced by a reduction in player arrests.
“We’ve had a tremendous focus in recent months on the Personal Conduct Policy, but it is working,” Goodell said. “We’ve had a 40 percent reduction in player arrests just through the 2015 calendar year. Forty percent. Our arrest rates for our players are far below the average for males of that age, and it reflects for me on the quality of our players off the field. They’re great young men. There’s a lot of attention when people violate the rules. You don’t put as much attention on the finalists for the Walter Payton Man of the Year. That’s what we’re trying to do, but if we can find a better system, I’m all for it.”
Ultimately, Goodell and the owners may be open to change only if they get something from the NFLPA in return. And that won’t be an easy negotiation.