Personal Conduct Policy imposes broad duty to report allegations

AP

Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston reportedly is bracing for a suspension arising from a failure to report to the league the allegations of an Uber driver arising from a March 2016 incident. While it’s possible that the “failure to report” angle is being used to take some of the sting out of the possibility that Winston will be suspended in whole or in part for the underling incident, the Personal Conduct Policy contains no ambiguity regarding a player’s obligations when aware of a claim of off-field misconduct.

“Clubs and players are obligated to promptly report any matter that comes to their attention (through, for example, victim or witness reports, law enforcement, or media reports) that may constitute a violation of this Policy,” the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy states. “Clubs are expected to educate their employees on this obligation to report. . . . Failure to report an incident will be grounds for disciplinary action. This obligation to report is broader than simply reporting an arrest; it requires reporting to the league any incident that comes to the club’s or player’s attention which, if the allegations were true, would constitute a violation of the Personal Conduct Policy.”

This obligation applies even if the player firmly believes the allegations are false. “If the allegations are true” is the standard, and in this case Winston apparently knew enough (based on his banishment from using Uber) to know that allegations had been made that, if true, would have violated the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy.

That said, it’s hard to fault Winston for keeping his head low and his mouth shut. It’s human nature to sit tight and to see whether something that could become problematic blows over. However, the Personal Conduct Policy mandates more.

The policy mandates more even though the NFL hardly has a reputation among players for hearing the players’ side of the story and giving them a full and fair chance to defend themselves. Last year, Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott found himself trapped in the pouch of a kangaroo court that gave him no meaningful opportunity to question his accuser. Indeed, the process that banished Elliott ultimately ignored the opinions of the investigator who had interviewed the accuser on multiple occasions.

Then there’s the reality that, if Winston had self-reported, someone at 345 Park Avenue would have leaked, either to a colleague at NFL Media or to Schefty, that Winston had self-reported a potential violation of the Personal Conduct Policy. How would the average football fan have reacted to that one? Probably by concluding that Winston’s decision to self-report must mean that he did something wrong.

Regardless, the policy is clear — and teams have a strong incentive to make sure players understand that anything and everything that potentially falls under the Personal Conduct Policy must be communicated to the team. The Buccaneers obviously didn’t do a good enough job of that; otherwise, Winston would have self-reported the potential violation.

39 responses to “Personal Conduct Policy imposes broad duty to report allegations

  1. This is one of the silliest suspensions I’ve heard of recently. An incident with an Uber driver? What are we even talking about anymore…

  2. The Personal Conduct policy needs to be done away with.
    Players should be suspended for specific tangible infractions, not nebulous reasons. If you want to attack the Commissioners power in the next CBA, you go after this policy. It went of course starting way back when Roethlisberger was suspended 4 games and was never charged with anything – yet the league decided it was enough of a “bad look” to go after him. Nobody seemed to care much then, but now it’s a big issue because Brady and Zeke have been victims.

  3. webster8723 says:
    June 21, 2018 at 10:16 am
    This is one of the silliest suspensions I’ve heard of recently. An incident with an Uber driver? What are we even talking about anymore…

    ——–

    Somewhere Eli, Peyton and Archie are having a good laugh

  4. You can blame it on Ray Rice. No matter what the infraction, someone will have an issue with the NFL if they are not harsh enough – in the instance that a video of said crime surfaces (for pay to TMZ). Which turns into a public crap show for the NFL. The NFL is in a tough spot with garbage like this.

  5. Agree with the above comments….. this NAZI LEAGUE oversight is getting out of hand…..
    Very slippery slope the NFL is walking here…..

  6. nhpats says:
    June 21, 2018 at 10:19 am
    webster8723 says:
    June 21, 2018 at 10:16 am
    This is one of the silliest suspensions I’ve heard of recently. An incident with an Uber driver? What are we even talking about anymore…

    ——–

    Somewhere Eli, Peyton and Archie are having a good laugh

    ——————–

    LMAO

    They’re like Trump or the Koch Brothers. So massively corrupt, people just gloss over it and choose to ignore it instead.

  7. I think the way Goodell will see this is that the real infraction is ‘allowing negative behavior to gain public visibility”. It makes him feel the need to have there be a punishment with equal visibility because he worries not so much about the infraction as he does about how it reflects on the shield. Sometimes this will still result in a punishment that fits the crime, sometimes it wont. I wont pretend I have enough first hand knowledge of Winstons matter to call that either way. But the decision making process for any ‘happenings’ will still be about public image and not the offense itself.

  8. tylawspick6 says:

    They’re like Trump or the Koch Brothers. So massively corrupt, people just gloss over it and choose to ignore it instead.
    ——————————————-
    Sorry NE guy – Trump is not a politician. Thanks for bring your political garbage opinions to an NFL page. Typical Pats fan. You would have preferred Clinton and her non corrupt ways? LOL

  9. hagemeisterpark920 says:
    June 21, 2018 at 10:23 am
    You can blame it on Ray Rice. No matter what the infraction, someone will have an issue with the NFL if they are not harsh enough – in the instance that a video of said crime surfaces (for pay to TMZ). Which turns into a public crap show for the NFL. The NFL is in a tough spot with garbage like this.

    ——————————–

    Well, Goodell worked in conjunction with his good buddy, the corrupt Steve Bisciotti, to try to fool the NFL customer with that situation, by ignoring it all summer, hoping it would go away.

    Not that the video of the internal camera inside the elevator was needed, but whoever leaked that to force Goodell’s hand once and for all and expose the attempted cover up, was a turning point showing the lengths Goodell will go to cheat.

    In that case there, Goodell liked his connection with Bisciotti at Augusta Golf Club, but more importantly becng forced to weaken the Ravens (Flacco was at 20 mil per and Cutting Rice meant a 9.5 mil cap hit for them in 2015), it would have removed one AFC team that challenges the Pats pretty good. Hence, why Goodell lied twice about what transpired in the Rice situation, after we all saw the tape. Funny how when there is such hard evidence, he ignores it, but he’s quick to manufacture “evidence” that is not real.

    His cheating comes in various forms, but as we now know, he flashes “Article 46” whenever he feels a need, which includes arbitrarily suspending players or stealing draft picks of teams, in order to appease an owner in the same division or conference of the victimized team.

  10. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the NFLPA should demand a reworking of the Personal Conduct Policy in a way that removes the league office from the equation before it even SITS DOWN with the league to work out the next CBA. Normally, “you have to give up something to get something”, but the league office has proven itself beyond a shadow of doubt that it is incompetent, corrupt, and unjust in its handling of player conduct and punishment. The players must demand that the league abdicate this power without any “exchange”, or else not even negotiate. It’s time to take a stand.

  11. “You should not have to tell on yourself”

    ========================

    So a employer can not have a rule that states if you have police contact and are charged with a crime you are required to notify us of this or you may be terminated?

    I agree wholeheartedly with this policy. It is a priveledge, not a right, to play in the NFL. If players get in trouble(They may be innocent. They still need to make their team aware of the police contact) it is not too much to ask to have them notify their team and said team to notify the league.

  12. The way things leak in the NFL you’d have to be worried about telling them anything. Then you’re in another hotspot because if your anyone in sports or in the public eye all this stuff ends up on TMZ or gets leaked to. Personally, I wouldn’t say a word and hope for the best. This is just a NFL covering themselves from anything. I’m not Catholic, but I wonder how many people would go to confession if things were leaked.

  13. The USA has the highest prison population in the world… Higher than China, Russia, and Iran.

    Anyone with half a brain knows the USA prison system is a private for profit enterprise which makes billions!

  14. If he’s charged or convicted of sexual assault against the driver that’s one thing, but from what I can find online I see nothing indicating charges have even been filed.

    The league is using this policy to punish players for what are essentially public relations violations, not actual proven criminal behavior. Its ridiculous and something that should be rectified in the next CBA.

  15. …and WHAT is the problem with this policy?
    NONE in my opinion, especially for those players who KNOW that they’ll be drafted.
    If the NFL drafts clowns like Winston who love to commit crimes, then the media would rip the NFL for enabling the behavoir.
    If the NFL doesn’t draft a players because of his crimes, even if they are alleged, then the media will rip them for not “giving the player a chance”.
    Personal accountability SHOULD be the issue here for players…but the media makes SURE that there is NO accountability whatsoever for players, before, during, or after the NFL.

  16. We have a conduct policy manual at work, and I imagine it’s similar to aspects of the NFL Conduct Policy*, that says you must report any violations immediately be they yours or others.

    So who’s going to step up and be the company squeal cheese? History teaches us the enforcement of this policy would likely be quite capricious.

    *excludes Manning family members.

  17. The policy seems to be a catch-all that isn’t used very often. I suspect it is there for those cases where the NFL believes something happened, that something paints the NFL in a bad light and they cannot for whatever reason actually prove that the incident happened. That said, Florio should stop conflating an internal disciplinary policy with an official legal procedure that requires all the constitutional and legal precedents be adhered to. Those same legal requirements allow for a jury by peers in an actual trial but no call for that has been made by the author…because he knows the processes are different.

  18. Leaks? Guess who is the root cause of the “leaks”? The MEDIA!
    Why does No ONE bother to lay the blame the media for ALL leaks?
    Reporters/talking heads probably bribe or provide some other “benefit” to “leakers” in order to “scoop” other news outlets with one objective in mind:
    advance their own career
    THAT is what all of these leaks come down to:
    Leaker gets paid off in some manner and the reporter gets someone to put on their resume

  19. tylawspick6 says:
    June 21, 2018 at 10:27 am
    nhpats says:
    June 21, 2018 at 10:19 am
    webster8723 says:
    June 21, 2018 at 10:16 am
    This is one of the silliest suspensions I’ve heard of recently. An incident with an Uber driver? What are we even talking about anymore…

    ——–

    Somewhere Eli, Peyton and Archie are having a good laugh

    ——————–

    LMAO

    They’re like Trump or the Koch Brothers. So massively corrupt, people just gloss over it and choose to ignore it instead.

    ———–

    Dude seriously….I think your Trump derangement syndrome is getting the best of you. Let it go and just enjoy the ride for the next 6 1/2 years. And be thankful every day that we don’t have to deal with Hillary.

  20. Allegations…just have some broad accuse the opposing starting QB before every game…you’ll be 16-0

  21. tylawspick6 says:

    They’re like Trump or the Koch Brothers. So massively corrupt, people just gloss over it and choose to ignore it instead.
    ——————————————-
    Sorry NE guy – Trump is not a politician. Thanks for bring your political garbage opinions to an NFL page. Typical Pats fan. You would have preferred Clinton and her non corrupt ways? LOL

    Since when is the POTUS not a politician? You mean the same guy that holds rallies all over
    to brag about his accomplishments since he’s been POTUS and tweets which politicians to vote for in the 2018 elections? Every POTUS since day 1 has been a politician.

  22. Some of you seem like you have never had a career or even a job.

    Your employer has the right to have personal conduct policies period!

    If you go out and sexually assault a woman and have this case pending and you keep going to work, do you think they have no right to terminate your employment?

    If you think that let me be the first to tell you that you are wrong!

    Jameis should not be suspended. He should be thrown out of the league! Not guilty my a$$!

  23. @frrefromwhatyouare
    There was no police contact or crime committed. There were never any charges criminally or civil in this case and the statute of limitations has ran out for bay charges or civil suits. He was only informed his Uber account was cancelled and he was not allowed to use Uber anymore. So he should tell his employer his was banned from Uber. And they never told him the exact reason it was. He has another witness in the car that states they were both in the back seat of the car and nothing happened. So he is suppose to tell the bucs something supposedly happened while me and Ronald Darby in the back seat of an Uber. I don’t know what happened but they suspended my Uber account. And why is Darby not being talked about for getting a suspension he was in the backseat with jameis and never reported to the eagles something happened. And they both say that they are both innocent so they are both in the same exact boat

  24. Just remember this QB is a lowlife who picks women who would accuse him of rape even if he didn’t; either he is a poor selector of mates or he is a rapist; he also has shown no desire to voluntarily report jack; he hides things; that is the worst kind of man – a sneak. If he’ll hide one thing, he’s got a closet filled with interesting things.

  25. LMAO

    They’re like Trump or the Koch Brothers. So massively corrupt, people just gloss over it and choose to ignore it instead.
    ______________________________

    They’re like Hillary or Soros. So massively corrupt, people just gloss over it and choose to ignore it instead. There…fixed it for you.

  26. So instead of actually giving him names and helping some people who in their opinion have suffered injustices they release this statement so they can play victim? Why on earth would anyone listen to people who are turning down opportunities to help the people they’re claiming they want to help? Is it me? What is going on?

  27. Florio, I’ve read in some comments on the original story that the language in the rule was tweaked in December 2016 after this event occurred. Can you fact check that?

  28. Let’s be clear about what Jameis was expected to report- Florio maybe you can help clarify this- but it’s my understanding that he only received a notification of his Uber account’s suspension/termination vs. a formal complaint or legal filing from the driver, right? I’m asking b/c I’m trying to understand the league’s expected bright-line here. Are players expected to self-report any instance where their accounts are suspended (for any reason)? I’m not sure if Uber even gave a detailed reason here. Isn’t there also the issue of whether this policy was in place at the time of the alleged incident or when his account was terminated? I’m not a Jameis apologist, but there’s seemingly some real creaky-faux league legal stuff here.

  29. Jeff 2380 you need to study the facts of the case not things that you heard👍

    But let’s even give you that he is “totally innocent” of a crime here(I do not believe this for a second) There is still allegations made against him. His employers personal conduct policy clearly states he has to make them aware of such allegations.

    When you have career where someone else issues you a check they can have whatever personal conduct policies they want. They are not forcing you to work for them.

  30. hello big brother.

    here is my SSN is xxx – cc – hhhh, please review all incoming and outgoing transactions
    here is my mandatory daily blood and urine sample
    here is my phone, please review all correspondance

    please continue to make billions off my talents and skills and refusing to acknowledge the dangers of this sport.

    – future NFL player circa 2027

  31. So this incident occurred in March 2016. The Conduct policy you quote in your article was not set until Dec 2016. So somehow, Winston has to tell on himself so he does not break a policy that is not in place yet?
    Don’t get me wrong if he indeed did it – he’s a scum bag and should be suspended or worse. Until you prove it though, you can’t suspend the guy for not following the policy net yet in place. (Well, I mean I guess you can because you’re the NFL…)

  32. That would be incorrect all counts.

    From the Conduct Policy (copied and paste): The League must be advised promptly of any incident that may be a violation of this policy, and particularly when any conduct results in an arrest or other criminal charge.

    Ok, this incident with the Uber driver is not a violation of the policy because there is no evidence to prove that it did happen. If no evidence is present, then no incident occurred, therefore no violation of this policy occurred. If no violation of this policy occurred then there is no violation of this policy to report. Therefore, the player’s obligation to report the incident not apply.

    No criminal charge = no arrest = no concrete proof the incident occurred = no incident violated conduct policy = no obligation to report.

    Case closed. The League can pound sand.

  33. I can see if there was a police complaint, you must give the league a heads up. But a complaint to Uber? This was never even brought up as a legal issue. No criminal complaint. But a an Uber complaint. Come on now.

  34. Lol who glosses over anything trump does? He’s under the most scrutiny I have ever seen.

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