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.