NFLPA criticizes “unilateral” imposition of personal conduct policy

The NFL issued a new personal conduct policy on Wednesday.  The NFL Players Association responded with the issuance of a statement.

“Our union has not been offered the professional courtesy of seeing the NFL’s new personal conduct policy before it hit the presses,” the NFLPA said.  “Their unilateral decision and conduct today is the only thing that has been consistent over the past few months.”

As PFT previously has reported, the NFLPA intends to immediately scrutinize the new policy for any terms that may fall within the mandatory duty to collectively bargain terms and conditions of employment with the union, and then to pursue potential relief via “system arbitration” under the CBA or via the National Labor Relations Board.

The NFL dismissed the union’s concerns during a media conference call introducing the new policy by contending that the goal is to protect the victims of violent crimes and that, as NFL executive V.P. of operations Troy Vincent said in remarks sharply critical of the union’s position, “People who don’t like discipline are those who have committed a criminal act.”

That’s an unfairly narrow view of opposition to and/or concerns about potentially unfair and heavy-handed discipline.  All players are subject to the policy.  Any player could be the victim of a false accusation.  It’s important that the rights of the players be balanced with the interests of the NFL and the actual (or politically and/or financially expedient) concern for the welfare of any victims whom the legal system has not yet determined to be victims of crimes actually committed by NFL players.

It’s a far more important issue than the NFL is making it out to be.  Yes, it ultimately impacts only a small handful of players.  But it can impact any of them, at any time.  That’s why the organization representing all players should be vigilant about a new policy that in many ways has been driven by public and media reaction to the NFL’s poor implementation of the old policy.

51 responses to “NFLPA criticizes “unilateral” imposition of personal conduct policy

  1. So D Smith is on the wrong side of history on this one. The rights of a man who commits violent crimes against women and children cannot and should not override the rights of the victims he abuses. Its time for D Smith to get with the rest of America and say he will not represent people who commit such crimes. They don’t belong in football. The public has made that clear.

  2. Given what’s happening regarding policing, punishment, and protesting around the nation right now, saying “People who don’t like discipline are those who have committed a criminal act.” is a pretty tone deaf comment.

  3. Yo D,

    If the freaking players stay out of freaking trouble, there’s no freaking problem !

    It’s really that simple.

  4. NFLPA is right. And this will blow in their faces when it comes time to negotiate the next CBA. Players are sick of Goodell and his approach to discipline. It’s heavy handed, one sided and he just powers through his mistakes like they never happened

  5. So, you blowhards that agree with this policy think it’s OK for a teams season to be affected if a player is falsely accused. Let’s take Marshawn Lynch for example. He was accused of serial assault this year. He was out of state at the time, if it took a couple weeks to get it straightened out abbey he had spent that time away from the team, the Seahawks season could have been essentially over because of it. It’s simply too heavy handed with very poor insight. Let the courts handle it and make the backend punishment more harsh if they are convicted.

  6. I don’t think that is a tone deaf comment at all. We are talking about people who commit violent crimes against women and children and how that should be handled. For those falsely accused, the investigation will expose that. But for guys like AP who beat their kid bloody with a switch from a tree, they shouldn’t be playing football–it tarnishes the sport.

  7. On this I have to side with the NFL and owners on this one. Players who smack around woman and children should be kicked out of the league & let the justice system deal with them. I don’t care who it is….GO TAKE A WALK and cool the he*l off ! If you’re an animal , you’ll be treated like a animal. NOW, can we STOP showing Chris Carter about to cry on that ‘stop the violence’ commercial.

  8. And if the player is innocent?

    Such as the mistaken identity case involving Marshawn Lynch?
    Or Colin Kaepernick? Ricardo Lockette?

    I agree the guilty should be punished, can’t walk over the innocents rights in the process.

  9. mtgriz29 says:
    Dec 10, 2014 2:59 PM
    NFLPA is right. And this will blow in their faces when it comes time to negotiate the next CBA. Players are sick of Goodell and his approach to discipline. It’s heavy handed, one sided and he just powers through his mistakes like they never happened
    ————–

    Goodell stinks and should be fired. But that’s not what this is about. This new policy is intended to provide consistency and standards that are currently lacking in the process.

    The NFLPA is going to oppose everything and everything the NFL does with respect to discipline. Surprise!

  10. From a PR viewpoint and not on the merits of whether this new personal conduct policy is good or bad, this is fascinating.

    Troy Vincent’s comments show that the NFL is trying to frame the issue as one protecting victims vs. protecting criminals. The NFL claims it is doing the former while accusing the NFLPA of doing the latter. This strategy is undoubtedly designed to deflect attention away from Goodell’s recent missteps in the Rice and Peterson cases.

    The NFL knows it has DeMaurice Smith over a barrel because: (1) his term as executive director of the NFLPA expires next year; and (2) he supposedly failed to address disciplinary issues during negotiations for the current CBA.

    Smith has to fight the new policy to the hilt if he wants a new contract but in doing so, the NFL has put him in a position of seeming to advocate for violent criminals. In other words, it has maneuvered him into a position where he can’t look good in the eyes of the public.

  11. In the Bloomberg article, Troy Vincent told “AP” in a private call that the child expert consultants didn’t know anything about football and didn’t care about the player’s shelf life. That they were only interested in the welfare of Adrian Peterson’s child and other children and Vincent was trying to educate them about football and why Peterson needed to get back on the field. Now he’s saying he won’t negotiate with women and children’s lives?

  12. “People who don’t like discipline are those who have committed a criminal act.”

    Good grief, what an extreme, political and polarizing statement to make. As disgusting as a career politician.

  13. The NFL dismissed the union’s concerns during a media conference call introducing the new policy by contending that the goal is to protect the victims of violent crimes.
    ____

    How can the NFL do anything to protect the victims? First, if the incident happened, then it already happened. The victim wasn’t protected there. Second, if they mean to protect the victim from future harm, how does suspending a player do anything to prevent it from happening again? If the guy isn’t deterred by a potential prison term, he isn’t going to be worried about missing a few paychecks.

  14. The NFLPA is good at issuing statements, but bad at winning any actual fights. The NFL is going to continue to do what it wants to do, and the NFLPA is going to have to continue and roll over and take it.

  15. Here were the priorities of the NFL when crafting this new policy:

    1) Save face after the Ray Rice fiasco
    2) Reduce salary costs by increasing the ways owners can withhold pay from players

    Anyone who thinks this is about actually helping victims of domestic violence is deluding themselves.

  16. “People who don’t like discipline are those who have committed a criminal act.”

    Perhaps, but just going off my own experience people who haven’t committed a criminal act and are disciplined like it even less.

  17. Did the policy state this is only for players? Shouldn’t this policy be for ALL employees, both at team and league level.

  18. Due process needs to be respected, but D continually comes across as the cry baby leader of a bunch of very, very well paid young men, a number of whom do remarkably stupid things on a remarkably regular basis. If it wasn’t for the diabolical behaviour of a number his members there would be no conversation because there would be no new policy.

  19. Paid leave is put in place while the legal process plays out.

    The legal process doesn’t start until there is an arrest. Prior to arrest, there is typically an investigation (and indictment in the case of AP). In hindsight, this would probably help someone like Big Ben because he was never charged and arrested.

    If my husband gets a DUI, he gets fired. Let’s stop acting like the system in place is that bad.

    One person at his company didn’t get fired for a DUI, the CEO. Sorry players, but it’s a not a right to play in the NFL and my husband doesn’t complain because there is a double standard for those in ownership roles that get to make rules. Don’t like it, buy an NFL team and put the effort you are complaining into game planning and practice.

  20. ““People who don’t like discipline are those who have committed a criminal act.

    Good grief, what an extreme, political and polarizing statement to make. As disgusting as a career politician.””–honeybadger14

    So you are saying that the ones who commit a violent criminal act against women or children are going to like the discipline they get? This is a common sense observation…perhaps the extremism is coming from the content of your heart.

    For the vast majority of NFL players who abide by the law, love their wives and children, this policy will work flawlessly.

    If you want to get those committing violent crimes against women and children off the hook, you are not liking the discipline.

  21. Did the policy state this is only for players? Shouldn’t this policy be for ALL employees, both at team and league level.

    —————-

    No, it applies to everyone:

    “This policy applies to the Commissioner; all owners; all employees of the NFL, NFL clubs,
    and all NFL-related entities, including players under contract, coaches, game officials; all rookie
    players selected in the NFL college draft and all undrafted rookie players, unsigned veterans who
    were under contract in the prior League Year; and other prospective employees once they commence negotiations with a club concerning employment.”

  22. Jesus, NFL. This is the root cause of all of the criticism that you and your dufus commissioner have received in recent months.

    Mark Cuban is laughing.

  23. Stop grandstanding. We all knew about a new policy being developed. I seem to remember the league asking for the union’s input. They declined and now complain about the league acting unilaterally. Please. Ex-players’ wives were involved and they expect us to believe they didn’t have a seat at the table. Just a bunch of PR hogwash. They declined because their participation would have eliminated future arguments against the policy. The union forfeited their ability to effect the process so that they could continue to complain about anything and everything the league does. They just now realized their huge problem. With the initial punishment being handed down by independent experts, the appeal process must now go to Goodell for final disposition. This virtually eliminates future instances where Goodell gets overruled and the league is embarassed. Any public outcry for the initial incident is deflected from the league to the independent experts.

  24. Guys cant be punished harshly for accusations. Its just not right. What if tomorrow some woman comes out saying aaron rodgers hit her? Is he suddenly suspended indefinitely until the matter is resolved? The answer is obviously NO. Next thing you know we will have bookies in Vegas paying women to make false accusations.

    Troy Vincents remark is the height of stupidity. Everyone, including the innocent but potentially accused, have an interest in the new policy and its unilaterally enforced punishments

  25. It just sickens me that people will advocate against something like this and use false allegation as the reasoning. The number of real crimes players commit far outweigh the few false allegation charges brought against them. Even in those few instances I would be willing to bet most players are guilty but buy the victim off or are afraid to lose their meal ticket like Rice’s wife. All for what? A game. What has happened with morality in this country when sociopaths like Rice and Peterson play the victim and delusional fans value their fantasy team over victims to these senseless acts?

    I have no problem with the league toughening their stance. Its not the leagues fault this all came to light it had to do with all the crimes the players committed and the sponsors as well as the league are sick of it. Stay out of trouble like the rest of us have to in our jobs and there will not be a problem, quite simple.

    To be fair the one area I do blame the teams is the ignoring the criminal past of many players. Many do their research and know all about their history and ignore like college coaches do.

  26. I like Roger Goodell for the most part. It should never have been in the NFL’s jurisdiction to become the legal system for player conduct. Back in the old days, player conduct off of the field was left to the courts. Now, because of you doofuses out there, the NFL has to try to serve justice against players accused of crimes. It’s a strange world we live in.

  27. It’s about time players get slammed with a specific policy against violent crime…. NFL players have literally been getting away with everything for decades…

    and as far as the argument that teams get unfairly penalized by losing these players to the policy…. that’s ridiculous…. all the teams have to do to have a better team is stop hiring guys with known criminal behavior problems…. it’s the teams own fault if they decide to just ignore the behavior of these criminals.

  28. The NFL was so phased by mob backlash it now feels it is necessary to have a rule that will apply to every case that fall within its parameters instead of being able to look at the merits of a case on a case by case basis. I have never been a bug fan of Unions but I. Am now.

  29. It wouldn’t matter if D Smith likes the new policy or not. Part of his job is to fight if the PLAYERS might not like it.

    Even if not charged, it is not all that hard to figure out if the player has a history of that type of behavior.

    My personal guess is that if there is no history, the NFL will let the legal system play out to see if there is an actual crime charged. If there is a history, even if only accused, the player, coach, staff or whoever will be put on the list.

  30. That’s why the organization representing all players should be vigilant about a new policy that in many ways has been driven by public and media reaction to the NFL’s poor implementation of the old policy.
    ——–
    Congrats to PFT for admitting how they helped provoke a mob mentality.

  31. “People who don’t like discipline are those who have committed a criminal act.”

    i think this is beside the point. the point here is that much of what the NFL rolls out in the conduct policy will likely be subject matter for which the nfl and nflpa are contracted to bargain for.
    its pretty easy for the side that is not going to be exposed to the discipline to see something as simply as only criminals have a problem with laws.

  32. No surprise here on any front. The NFL is an EMPLOYER. EMPLOYERS make the rules. EMPLOYEES follow them or else. The union is NOT a partner, it is merely a mouthpiece for labor…one that has no standing to offer opinions as to how the league conducts is business. Those items that are required to be collectively bargained are done that way…others are merely handed down and employees had better toe the line.

  33. I can’t help feeling that if the NFL had given final arbitration on punishment to DeMaurice Smith, that the NFLPA would have immediately released a statement opposing the decision as unjust.

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