The NFL has decided to implement a new rule that bars college players with a record of certain types of crimes from participating in the Scouting Combine, attending the draft, or appearing at any other league-sanctioned event before they are selected. Reached by email on Tuesday, the NFL Players Association had no comment on the new rule.
Implied in the lack of comment is that the NFL did’t consult with the union before unveiling the new rule. It’s potentially not required, given that incoming players aren’t members of the NFLPA. Still, the union was directly involved in the development of the rule that imposes a three-year post-high-school waiting period on players entering the draft, and that rule directly impacts players not yet in the league.
The bigger question is this: Does it make a difference if players convicted of domestic violence, sexual assault, or weapons offenses are banned from attending the Scouting Combine? Teams will still find out everything they need to know about the player, and teams will still draft talented players regardless of their personal history.
The only way to ever change that would be to tie draft-pick forfeitures on teams who give a player a second chance and who then fail to ensure that the player doesn’t get in trouble again. To be clear, I’m not saying the league should do it that way; instead, I’m saying that any other approach is window dressing and/or P.R. spit-and-polish.