Union braces for unilateral changes to personal conduct policy

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Friday’s ruling in the Ray Rice appeal reveals many things about the NFL.  Perhaps most importantly, it shows the value of true independence when assessing the decisions made by the league office.

In her 17-page ruling, former U.S. Judge Barbara S. Stone flatly rejected the league’s version of events regarding the information provided by Rice regarding the incident in the Atlantic City elevator.  Absent genuine neutrality and impartiality, it’s difficult for a decision like that to be made.

Of course, that’s one of the big reasons why the league stubbornly refuses to concede ultimate authority over the personal conduct policy.  The NFL believes it knows best in such situations; actual due process that prevents the league office from doing whatever it wants to do makes it hard for the NFL to advance its interests.

Thus, while the Rice ruling proves that independent arbitration should be used in every case, the outcome likely will make the league office even more determined to retain final say.  Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the NFL Players Association currently fears that the league will unilaterally implement a new personal conduct policy over any union objections and without collective bargaining after the next ownership meetings, which will occur on or about December 10.

For now, the NFL is taking a position that reflects the significance of Friday’s events.

“Judge Jones’ ruling underscores the urgency of our work to develop and implement a clear, fair and comprehensive new personal conduct policy,” the league office said in a statement released Friday evening.  “We expect this policy to be completed and announced in the weeks ahead.  Our focus is on consistently enforcing an improved policy going forward.”

The eventual policy may be improved, but it still may be far from perfect.  If, for example, the new procedure requires Commissioner Roger Goodell to obtain input from relevant experts but nevertheless allows him to make the decision on discipline and to retain authority over any appeal, the process technically will be improved but it will still have plenty of room for improvement.

The personal conduct policy won’t be as good as it can be until every decision becomes subject to independent arbitration.  Indeed, the fear of a public rebuke for a flawed decision could be enough to get the league to make better decisions in the first place.  Any other approach means that the NFL will continue to make decisions by determining the preferred outcome and then working backward to justify it.

34 responses to “Union braces for unilateral changes to personal conduct policy

  1. I don’t know what will happen, but if the owners have even a slight ear to players and public opinion, Goodell should be gone. Amazing that the man still has his job, and the longer it goes on, it really does appear that its really only about the money.

  2. Dear Roger,
    When you make the union seem reasonable, you have failed miserably. Congratulations! Please suspend yourself indefinitely…

  3. The most ignored story of the day was Shady McCoy yelling the N-word directly into the camera in front of a Thanksgiving audience. This is the same man who said he “lost respect” for Riley Cooper for saying the same exact word. #doublestandard

  4. Ray Rice should not be allowed to return to the NFL … no matter what Judge Barbara S. Stone ruled.

    Playing in the NFL is a privilege, not a right. No due process is owed him. He is toxic, and the NFL has a right to determine that he is detrimental to their brand.

  5. so they enforce a lackluster policy…get public blowback so fierce they hastily retool a policy then proceed to go back and hit the people they already ruled on with this new policy….then when they lose on appeals…they will retool it again?

    this makes the ACA on line sign up seem like it was done in a research think tank.

    even the smallest business has a functioning progressive discipline policy that will assure them no arbitrator over rules the policy

  6. The CBA already gives the NFL and Goodell all the power so why does anyone think they will give it up for nothing?

  7. Revised personal conduct personality:
    1. Don’t beat your significant other or kids
    2. Don’t kill anyone
    3. Don’t get arrested
    4. Don’t do drugs during the season

    * Seriously, is it that hard to earn millions of dollars and not do these 4 things???

    Yours truly,


  8. It’s not rocket science, NFL.

    You’re in the United States, not some foreign country like North Korea where you’re guilty in a public court with no chance to defend yourself and thrown in prison for 20 years.

    It’s 2014. Not 1964. And you’re fighting a battle you WILL lose if you intend to have the commissioner be judge, jury and executor.

    Make any final ruling in a personal conduct violation up to a third, disconnected party, and you’ll finally show you’re serious about the fairness you so strive for.

    Like, you know…fighting tooth and nail against sports betting while DIRECTLY benefiting from Fantasy Football. Which is a close to if not outright sports betting as you can possibly get.

  9. This wasn’t the result of a bad policy. The policy is fine. The problem is record keeping. The league couldn’t back up their side of the story regarding how they claim Rice described the outcome of events. Had they, I don’t know, thought to record their conversations with Rice, then who said what and when, wouldn’t be an issue. That’s assuming that Rice actually said what the league claims he said. Although, even if he didn’t, the policy isn’t the problem. It’s the idiots executing the policy.

  10. Here is the perfect policy –

    If a player gets arrested they are banned from the league indefinitely. If they are found not guilty, they are reinstated immediately. If there is any other finding they can apply for reinstatement after a year as long as it is not classified as a violent crime. If it is a violent crime then minimum 2 years.

    There is no appeal, it is a set penalty. That way they don’t have to worry about Goodell handling appeals.

  11. STOP it with the pro-player agenda. Rice beat a woman yet PFT will defend him and try to destroy Goodell for what Rice did.

    Employer = NFL
    Employee = Rice

    Since when it is “acceptable” for an employee to make his employer look ridiculous in public, AND be able to demand the job that was was loaned, back to him?

    I hope Rice is blackballed from the NFL forever.

  12. dryzzt23 –

    “Since when it is “acceptable” for an employee to make his employer look ridiculous in public, AND be able to demand the job that was was loaned, back to him?”

    It is acceptable when the employer misrepresents the truth and attempts to manipulate public perception of said truth to their advantage at the expense of said employee. #GetSomeFreakingIntegrityRoger-G

  13. The most ignored story of the day was Shady McCoy yelling the N-word directly into the camera in front of a Thanksgiving audience. This is the same man who said he “lost respect” for Riley Cooper for saying the same exact word. #doublestandard


    Double-standard? You mean when McCoy said it excitedly upon dominating a play vs. Cooper saying he wanted to FIGHT all of the black people?

    One is closer to happiness in reaction to winning, another is closer to violent abuse toward another human being because… music concert? See where I’m getting at?

  14. Adding to the above comment, haven’t you noticed no one really called out Incognito for the word, even though he seemed like a meathead?

    Because he never screamed he wanted to fight a race of people, then emphasizing said race with the N-word. It’s called connotation, and I’m pretty sure even with our devolved educational system this concept is taught to pretty much all students in this country before the 9th grade.

  15. All it the appeal means is that Goodell screwed up on the original 2 game suspension. He should have suspended Rice indefinitely the first time instead of the second time. In no way does it lessen what Ray Rice did. Roger Goodell blew it from the start on this and he knew it after he announced a 2 game suspension. Goodell should be fired by the owners.

  16. The whole purpose of the PCP was to reduce the number of arrests, etc. from NFL employees?

    Has anyone bothered to look into if it’s worked?

    The 1980’s didn’t have a “Personal Conduct Policy”. The 1990’s didn’t either. Was it the end of humanity? Did the sky fall?

    How about letting common sense prevail and putting the burden back on criminal justice system to start doing their job? Shouldn’t the outrage (here and everywhere) be more on the District Attorney in Atlantic City and NOT Roger Goodell? Didn’t that guy to the greatest disservice to our society by slapping Ray Rice on the wrist for a crime he should be in jail for? And if our society can’t put a rich and famous person behind bars when a VIDEO exists of him knocking out a woman, shouldn’t that demand social and legal change, however possible?

    There should be no “NFL Personal Conduct Policy” (what a misnomer), just common sense and ability for each individual owner to decide who he wants to hire for his team (the court of public opinion will tell the owner if it’s allowed or not).

  17. Goodell is a self serving lying weasel who should never be the cop, prosecutor, judge and jury and if thats not enough he also is the appeal process smh….think about it, he suspended a coach for a yr for not knowing about bounty gate and the players who were involved were found not liable after the teams season was ruined….then he says the Pats cheated and fines them 1 million no one was suspended and all evidence was destroyed…kinda a makes you wonder why and now Kraft his one of the few publicly supporting him….

  18. If they implemented yet another revision to the Personal Conduct Policy without collective bargaining; wouldnt it be great if the players actually went on strike during the playoffs? I mean they already got their big money. I think that would finally put an end to Goodell.

  19. Hey guys if you get arrested are you going to be fired from your job? Yup probably. If it makes the employer look bad you will probably lose your job. So what makes the NFL any different?

  20. Ok so let me get this straight.
    NBC, who owns PFT, thinks it is a violation of everything for Goodell to unilaterally change policy that protects the NFL brand and executes discipline on about 1,900 millionaire NFL players.

    The very same NBC believes that it is perfectly fine for Obama to UNILATERALLY change laws that affect 300+ MILLIONS of people.

    Protect the 1,900 millionaire NFL players who already have union and NLRB protections but do not protect the U.S. Constitution and legal U.S. citizens.
    There is something really wrong with this.

  21. IMO Goodell should institute the following policy:

    If an NFL player commits a crime, brings negative publicity to the NFL itself or any of its teams, if a players is arrested, is suspected of a crime, is associated with criminals, or does ANYTHING that puts the NFL in a position that forces the NFL to defend itself legally, then that player will be banned immediately from the NFL forever.

    MAYBE that will instill some discipline into these prima donna NFL players and their union.

  22. “Ray Rice should not be allowed to return to the NFL … no matter what Judge Barbara S. Stone ruled.”

    That’s right. Laws are boring. Who needs them anyway. Why have judges and courts of law? Get rid of them! I want to do what I want.

  23. And now the NFLPA has the precedent to fight for a CBA change that requires a conviction before punishment.

    Should be interesting. The NFL will want to keep the right to preemptively punish…but they’ll have to give something up for it.

  24. It’s nice seeing the NFL being held responsible for what they do.

    The heat is on in the ivory tower. Imagine being held responsible. It’s not a feudal system any more.

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