When the NFL decided in the aftermath of the Ray Rice case to disregard the machinations of the criminal justice system in lieu of its own investigations, the league expanded its reach over all players considerably. The NFL Players Association has now warned player agents of the manner in which the league’s powers could be manifested.
Via the Association Press, the union distributed a memo last week to all agents advising them of a “new world of NFL player investigations.”
These investigations can arise not only from a player being arrested or charged, but also from an alleged victim making a complaint about a player directly to the league.
“The NFL has initiated numerous investigations based merely upon phone calls by alleged victims to the NFL,” the memo explains. “It appears that many people are now aware that they can directly call the NFL to levy allegations against players.” (And now even more are aware of that.)
The league denies that there has been a “sea change in the investigative process” since former D.C. police chief Cathy Lanier arrived as the league’s head of security. The truth, however, is that the sea change happened after the NFL’s mishandling of the Rice situation nearly triggered a Commissioner change. That’s when the league decided to no longer defer to the authorities and to conduct their own investigations — regardless of whether a player ever faces criminal jeopardy.
Apparently, this includes investigating misconduct about which the authorities aren’t even aware. Which opens another can of worms, if the league decides not to share what it knows with law enforcement.
The report from the AP makes a big deal of the fact that “social media, texts and emails” will be part of the league’s investigations. It’s almost as if the AP has entirely forgotten the incident known commonly throughout the media as #DeflateGate.
Of course those things could be pertinent to any investigation conducted by the league. The real news is that the league apparently has been and will continue to start investigations based simply on a complaint made directly to the NFL, regardless of whether the alleged victim ever reported the situation to police.
This gives rise to the real possibility of false or exaggerated claims being made to the league. It also enhances the likelihood that players will be the targets of extortion, with a demand for money being made to keep a complaint from being lodged with the league.