League, NFLPA need clear standards, fair procedures for OTA violations


As teams are now expected to honor the rules regarding offseason practice as written, there’s plenty of confusion regarding what the rules as written mean, and regarding the process for determining whether the written rules have been violated.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll alluded to these concerns earlier this week, explaining that the NFL never told his team how it precisely lost two days of Organized Team Activities for having “live contact” at practice.  Carroll also expressed concern that the league and the union aren’t reviewing the tape of every teams’ practices.

They should be.  Requiring teams to record and maintain practice footage provides a deterrent to breaking the rules intentionally, but failure to check the tapes does nothing to educate the teams on whether they are accidentally allowing players to go too far.

Instead, the enforcement process seems to be driven by the media.  If a report emerges of a fight at a non-contact practice, the league and the union look into whether the fight was preceded by the kind of on-field jostling that could cause tempers to flare.

Carroll has said that’s exactly what happened in Seattle, with the practices coming under scrutiny after word emerged of fights between the receivers and the defensive backs.  In New Orleans, a fight on Wednesday resulted in scrutiny on Thursday.

Even without fights, media reports can get the attention of the NFL and/or the NFLPA.  An ankle injury suffered by Eagles defensive end Vinny Curry while trying to accomplish a “bull rush” suggests “live contact.”  And in a recent item regarding the efforts undertaken by the Cowboys to comply with the offseason rules, Todd Archer of ESPNDallas.com pointed out that a “bigger-than-normal” collision occurred during practice, when running back DeMarco Murray and linebacker Sean Lee crossed paths.

“It’s the NFL,” Murray said. “Sean Lee didn’t try to hit me. We were both going pretty fast. We both tried to stop. I tried to make a cut underneath him. He was going so fast. He played it really, really well and we just kind of ran into each other.”

Is that enough to trigger a violation?  No one seems to know, because the NFL apparently hasn’t told the teams where the “live contact” line resides.

So why not tell the teams what the rules specifically prohibit?  And then why not review the tapes of every practice to determine who is and isn’t following the rules, in lieu of creating potential friction between teams and the media when accounts of possible contact at practice emerge, causing the teams to land in a steaming vat of trouble soup?

That would make too much sense.  Which likely means it will never happen.

19 responses to “League, NFLPA need clear standards, fair procedures for OTA violations

  1. Oh Goddell, what a mess you have made of America’s most beloved sport. The owners must love the negative PR they’re getting……tick, tock………Goddell

  2. How the hell are you supposed to practice football without making contact. I think we all agree that collisions take place even in non-contact drills. Thats why you have your damn helmet on!

    So long as they are not lining up for live drills, we should be cool with it.

  3. Pete Caroll wants clarity from the NFL about their rules. The NFL can not continue to create rules and punishments on the fly as it’s doing these days. This is no way to run a billion dollar industry, WHERE ARE THE FRIGGIN’ OWNERS, C’MON MAN!

  4. This latest rule-interpretations fiasco doesn’t surprise me in the least. Goodell would butcher a rule on how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich if he was asked to.

  5. It is patently asinine to strip a team of two days’ worth of OTAs without at least giving them the courtesy of sitting down with the tape and saying “Here’s where you went wrong.”

    It’s also wrong to leave it up to the media to instigate investigation. If I’m a reporter covering my local team, I’ll start weighing the benefits of doing my job and reporting on what I see, versus keeping my mouth shut and letting it slide. After all, paper sales could be affected, and my job may be in jeopardy, if it’s found out that the league cancelled practices due to my reporting. Or maybe I’m also a fan of the team, as many reporters are, and I don’t want to see them punished, so I zip it.

  6. @jason1980 says:Jun 8, 2012 2:31 PM

    Oh Goddell, what a mess you have made of America’s most beloved sport. The owners must love the negative PR they’re getting……tick, tock………Goddell

    How about reading sj39’s comment. And he hasn’t made a mess of the NFL. Wussbag.

  7. “So why not tell the teams what the rules specifically prohibit? And then why not review the tapes of every practice to determine who is and isn’t following the rules,”

    Better yet, instead of the NFLPA getting their panties in a bunch, they should realize this is a contact sport by nature, just get over it! I’m all for players and coaches being sensible in training camp, as far as injuries are concerned, but come on already!

  8. The NFL and fair do not belong in the same sentence.

    The NFL and dictatorship however, is a match made in heaven.

  9. Pete says everyone should be investigated on OTA violations, Roger says “sure, let’s look at the Saints!”

    The Saints say everyone should be investigated for pay-for-performance systems, Roger says “no way!”

  10. Maybe this is why certain teams (the Patriots) instill a policy of NOT speaking to the media unless required. So that irrelevant leaks like this don’t derail the offseason & season. I know I’m going to get thumbs down from the Pats haters who will still be screaming about spygate years from now but there is a method to the madness.

  11. Cheat Carroll cheated in college, I guess he thought he could do the same in the NFL. Ask your GM or Owner for clarity you cheater.

  12. And “Spiritgate” continues. Rules need to be as specific as possible. If it was the rumor of a fight that caused them to review the tape then that’s crap also. You can’t implement a new rule and selectively screen for it. You must screen everyone so that the NFL knows they mean business. This just tells them as long as there are no fights/spreading of the fights that they can operate outside of the laws with relative immunity.

  13. i am a bit confused, why would the nflpa need clear standards? I thought it was spelled out for them if the new CBA?

    If I were in the NFLs shoes right now I would take advantage of the situation and sneak a lot more contact in the OTAs- and then ask the NFLPA- is that clear enough for you?

    Correct me if I am wrong but isnt less contact what the NFLPA want and not the other way around?

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