Nate Allen incident highlights perils of new conduct policy

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Soon-to-be free-agent Eagles safety Nate Allen escaped charges on Monday after the 16-year-old who accused Allen of indecent exposure outside a Red Lobster began to tell inconsistent stories to police.  That’s good news for Allen, but possibly bad news for the NFL’s renewed zeal when it comes to policing the off-field lives of players.

False charges are made — and not abandoned by a nervous teenager — all the time.  Currently working in the league office is a man who spent five years in jail for something he didn’t do, thanks to a victim who told a lie that enough people believed.

That’s the risk the NFL has assumed with its new approach to players facing allegations of violent crime.  Unlike the false rape accusations against Brian Banks, which prompted him to agree to a plea deal in lieu of risking a far longer sentence at trial, the vetting process that will make charges stick long enough to derail a player’s career is a lot less strenuous, thanks to the NFL’s woefully misguided belief that benching a player with pay pending the resolution of his legal case doesn’t amount to any type of discipline on the player.

It does, and now all it takes is someone who has the desire to make trouble for the player and the ability to tell a persuasive lie with a straight face to create major problems — and possibly to extract a major cash settlement — from a player.  But as Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy has learned, even a major cash settlement may not be enough, if it comes after testimony and other evidence has been generated to allow the NFL, under a far lower standard of proof, to determine that the guy did something he shouldn’t have done, even if the allegations are false.  Which, in turn, creates an incentive for players to make major cash settlements as early in the process as possible; preferably, before anyone even knows about the allegations.

Which, in turn, creates even more of an incentive for someone to make false claims against the player, especially if the objective is simply to score a payday.

The NFL either doesn’t understand this concept or regards it as an acceptable risk in light of the intense scrutiny the league has faced in the aftermath of the Ray Rice situation.  Either way, the table has been set for NFL players to be set up.

40 responses to “Nate Allen incident highlights perils of new conduct policy

  1. yes this will be the 1st of many players who will suffer because of false claims but i must wonder when a opposing team team use this to get a star player out of a game

  2. Ray Rice was hit twice by his girlfriend, who seemingly was about to hit him again when he hit her. In all likelihood the reason he hit her so hard was due to the speed she closed in on him.

    The prosecutors knew this and chose to give him a fairly light wrist slap rather than risk a trial they could lose.

    The NFL in it’s bizarre, let’s make the Feminists who hate football happy, refused to acknowledge the girlfriends role in that incident.

  3. “…and now all it takes is someone who has the desire to make trouble for the player and the ability to tell a persuasive lie with a straight face to create major problems — and possibly to extract a major cash settlement — from a player.”

    How was that any different from before? People have tried to exploit the rich and famous for decades from my perspective.

  4. This is what swift and unreasonable justice looks like. But in the wake of something like the Ray Rice ordeal, society seems to think quick and harsh wins out over paced reason. Under these guidelines, the problem of player conduct will be only part of a huge problem for the league.

  5. I don’t often agree with Florio but in this instance I do. The owners have a history of doing knee jerk reactions to incidents in an attempt to limit any potential damage to the NFL brand and this is just another example of that.

  6. Bowing to public opinion about a alleged rogue league. The jurors of the court of public opinion who sit on high horses with indignation then when its them or someone they know its then framed as a private matter. The NFL is a entertaining political mess at times. Quick to arbitrarily pass conduct and safety policy off public polls and talking heads who fan flames until they start a fire then distance themselves as soon as the critical thinkers call bull and question the point if its overkill.

  7. This is why the NFL should stick to football and let law enforcement do its job. The NFL and the NFLPA can work out a range of punishments if a player is convicted of a crime. The Ray Rice incident is a perfect example of what can go wrong, the problem was that law enforcement didn’t do its job properly. All the anger that went to Goodell should have been directed at law enforcement. The NFL should not be involved in discipline until someone has been convicted.

  8. The NFL has lost all credibility to me. I JUST want to turn on a game and watch some well played football. Remember the days when players HAD to work a 2nd job in the off-season to support their family? they did’nt have TIME to get into trouble with the law.

  9. The NFL doesn’t have a “standard of proof”, they have a “standard of punishment”. Their standard really has nothing to do with evidence and everything to do with punishing a player as soon as possible and sorting out if anything happened later.

    Essentially, they throw a player in jail when he’s accused and if he is shown to be innocent they tell him that they’ll consider letting him out after a few committee meetings.

  10. Thus is the history of American jurisprudence. Certain groups are easy targets for whatever the reason. Some get off, some go to prison, get suspended, fined and labeled, while others get prosecutors fired, ruin their lives and collect $20m each for being charged.

    50 years ago, all the teen had to do is accuse and somebody would be getting lynched-plain and simple. It wouldn’t matter if she lied. I guess we’ve come a long way.

  11. @rupp246, you’re absolutely correct. The alternative is too risky….you let someone play, then they are found guilty, and it turns into a PR nightmare. Just gotta hope the legal system moves quickly and fairly. I know, a quick and fair legal system is asking a lot.

  12. As long as the NFL continues down this path of imposing fines and suspensions on players who make mistakes in their private lives, the league will be in state of turmoil and upheaval. It has no business whatsoever, taking on this role that was expressively given to our courts. All this amounts to is appeasing their sponsors, as the average fan couldn’t care less about what Ray Rice or Adrian Peterson did in their private lives. We come to the shrine that is our TV each Sunday, to watch football, not to hear discussions about which player did what this past week. It’s time the NFL remembered that their role is to hold games each week; nothing more.

  13. How does the new policy towards domestic violence not tarnish the shield? Also, how is it fair for Greg Hardy to sit 15 games until his case is resolved (by dismissal) only to be suspended? It’s not fair to fans, players or the teams to have players on the exempt list.

  14. Simply put, if the players are smart enough to avoid such situations, they won’t be accused. All this is a way of avoiding taking responsibility for one’s actions.

    Every youngster wants to be grownup, but the difference between a child and an adult is not years or status. Rather, it’s a willingness to accept responsibility, to be responsible for one’s own actions.

  15. “Unlike the false rape accusations against Brian Banks, which were eventually accepted beyond a reasonable doubt by a jury….”

    Actually, Banks accepted a plea deal and never fought the accusation against him. That doesn’t change that what happened to him was wrong, and I understand that he only accepted a plea because he didn’t want to take the risk of a tougher sentence if he fought the charges and lost. But, fact is that he didn’t fight the charges.

  16. On the other hand, how many legal cases go away because the deep pocketed player buys silence? It is quite a slippery slope when the NFL wants to supercede the legal system. For the reason above, it makes some sense, and may even be admirable in theory… but how can anyone trust the NFL to find or dispense the truth at this point.

  17. Was waiting for something like this to happen before one of the conference championship games or the Super Bowl. What’s the league going to do if a star player is accused of something like this immediately before one of its ultimate games ?

    And gee, the media feeding frenzies at the slightest hint of a player doing something inappropriate and internet lynch mobs have nothing to do with the new league policies either. Nothing at all. Not a bit.

  18. When the NFL came up with this policy I knew this would be one of it’s weakness and this will lead to blackmail and players being compromised because the assumption now is guilty until proven innocent. One last thing… is the woman now being charged for making false statements?

  19. There is a big difference between an accusation and an indictment based on an investigation by law enforcement and/or a district attorney. All the guys placed on paid leave were indicted. There were several who were accused of some pretty serious things but were not placed on the exempt list. The sky is not falling and your cynicism about the policy is misplaced. The NFL has this one right. Your disdain for the league, Goodell or discipline has clouded your judgment on this issue. The policy is based on behavior rather than convictions. If a guy gets pulled over and has a BAC of .2 he can be punished by the league even if his lawyer gets the charges reduced from a DUI to reckless driving. It is the behavior that brings discredit upon the league, not the legal disposition. The league’s actions, when taken, have been prudent and the ‘what if’ mentality by those that oppose it is merely sensationalism.

  20. This is a joke. The NFL may have the worst union in the history of America for both it’s former & present players.

  21. i’m surprised and disappointed he was released, if for this incident.

    he was released by the PD .

    no indication of future charges , except maybe to the kid.

    as to his nfl skills – this was coming.

  22. truckinmack says:
    Feb 17, 2015 7:42 AM
    Ray Rice was hit twice by his girlfriend, who seemingly was about to hit him again when he hit her. In all likelihood the reason he hit her so hard was due to the speed she closed in on him.

    I must have missed the part of the video where she displayed her 2.8 second 40 yard dash speed… She could have been falling backwards and that punch would have knocked her out. I am not even going to get into the argument of if she hits first its ok, but acting like the impact of that punch would have been minimal if not for her blazing speed toward him is asinine at best

  23. No it doesn’t. If Nate Allen was Earl Thomas (well, the one before his worst game ever in the Super Bowl), he’d still be on the team. The Eagles have been itching to dump Allen since his rookie year when he showed he was clearly not that good.

  24. Just waiting for the day someone says GODELL exposed himself. That would make my day. I hope they place him on leave with pay and then fire him after 1 year of sitting on the couch. The best part would be if the accusation was fake.

  25. Incidents in the NFL are just high profile. Arrests are actually lower than in the population as a whole. As reported on PFT the 1.9-percent arrest rate among pro football players comes in far lower than the 2010 arrest rate for all Americans, at 4.9 percent.

  26. Gee you mean the 16 year old was not coached by her Father? Sport Stars have etched on their forehead “Accuse me and you pass directly to GO and collect your $$$$$”. Remember the high school kid with all that promise and some sleezebag pull that one off. Poor kid had his life ruined, and all that scumbag had to say was, sorry, I spent all the money. The NFL should stop “Guilty until Proven Innocent” approach. Granted, Rice’s case was one, but Nate Allen is not. Heaven forbid if the kid’s only chance to play in a SuperBowl was derailed by scumbags like that 16 year old.

  27. Right On Florio! This is possibly your best and most insightful article since this site was established. Good work!

  28. Possible sequels to the classic novel on false accusations: “To Kill a Mockingbird”

    “To Kill a Cardinal”
    “To Kill a Falcon”
    “To Kill a Seahawk”
    “To Kill a Patriot”
    “To Kill a Cowboy”…

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