As the NFL owners gather in Dallas for their quarterly meetings, one of the biggest issues on the docket relates to the development of a new personal conduct policy. The owners are expected to at least consider and possibly adopt new rules for off-field misconduct, which in theory could be unveiled as early as today.
If/when (when) the NFL announces a new personal conduct policy, the NFL Players Association will be poised to react. Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the NFLPA immediately will study the new policy in search of any provisions that potentially constitute topics that would be mandatory subjects of collective bargaining. If the union believes that the NFL has included terms that relate to subjects requiring bargaining with the union, the NFLPA will file a “system arbitration” proceeding under the labor deal, initiate an action with the National Labor Relations Board, or both.
The NFL currently possesses the power to impose discipline under the personal conduct policy and to handle the appeal. It’s believed that the NFL will delegate the initial decision to a panel of experts but Commissioner Roger Goodell will retain final say over the process.
Other issues relate to the procedures for investigating allegations against players before their legal cases are resolved and the circumstances under which players will be suspended with pay while their legal cases are pending. If the NFL implements placement on the Commissioner-Exempt list with pay as the standard practice for players accused of certain crimes and declines to give the players credit for time served when the time comes to impose discipline, look for the NFLPA to fight this implicit guilty-until-proven-innocent approach aggressively.