Some owners wonder whether NFL should get out of investigation business

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Jerry Jones was ahead of his time, again.

The Cowboys owner argued during an owners-only meeting in March 2017 that the league should get out of the business of investigating player misconduct. Mark Maske of the Washington Post reports that some owners are now questioning the league’s investigative practices in the aftermath of the Kareem Hunt case, including the question of whether the NFL should even be engaging in investigations.

“It’s certainly an issue that needs discussion,” an unnamed person with “knowledge of those owners’ views” told Maske. “Is there a way to do this better? If not, should the NFL even be in the investigative business?”

Such an approach would reset the clock to the pre-Ray Rice days, forcing the NFL to rely on the outcomes generated by the criminal justice system, outcomes that vary widely based on a variety of factors, given the broad discretion prosecutors enjoy. In jurisdictions where police are inclined to look the other way as a favor to the local NFL team or hometown athlete, a commitment to accept whatever happens in court could result in nothing happening at all, within the confines of the league office.

Still, the NFL has proven time and again that it lacks the skill and the resources to do the job properly, with the Hunt case being perhaps the most vivid example of the ineffectiveness of the league when it comes to getting all of the evidence needed in order to determine what precisely occurred. Indeed, it could be argued that the NFL didn’t really want to get the evidence in Hunt’s case, because it would have forced the NFL to create its own P.R. mess by imposing a significant suspension on Hunt and then releasing, in the face of a media outcry, the evidence supporting the sanction.

It also could be argued that the NFL decided to simply check the boxes (“we asked the hotel, and we asked the Cleveland Police Department for the video”) and then accepted the risk that TMZ eventually would get the video. That worst-case scenario would match the best-case scenario if the NFL had found the video on its own and published it, in order to support a suspension that would have prompted some (like me) to say, “How can you impose such a stiff punishment on a guy who never was even arrested?”

And so, as the league struggles to find a middle ground between the Ray Rice and Ezekiel Elliott cases, the league could retreat to the days before Rice, opting only to act when forced to do so by the fact that a player was found to be responsible for criminal misconduct by the criminal justice system, recognizing that the criminal justice system has plenty of imperfections — but perhaps not nearly as many as those demonstrated by the league’s own efforts to investigate crimes.

39 responses to “Some owners wonder whether NFL should get out of investigation business

  1. The NFL still has a chance to change course. It’s not that hard. Let the justice system do what it does, and follow their example. Inconsistency is what’s killing their public image. If they waited for players to go through due process and then acted, they would have a leg to stand on. That won’t satisfy everyone, but then again, nothing will. Consistency. That’s all we’re asking for here.

  2. It’s always fun when people think that the NFL should punish people more severely than the system that is the foundation upon which societies are built does. It’s also amazing to me that so many people come down on the NFL yet are scarcely heard from when the ballot box is there ready for people to demand the type of changes they want the NFL to implement.

    In other words, you can punish guys without removing their livelihood. It should be left up to the teams to decide what they wanna do. If a team wants to keep a guy, fine. If they don’t and cut him, ok. But the NFL just buries itself deeper and deeper every time something like this happens.

  3. Hmmm. Interesting idea. Perhaps the most pressing question facing Goodell is if the backlash from the missteps by his investigations corps is too severe, and the cost too high, to cling to the power his office has amassed from it. I think it will require the owners insisting he abandons it before he ever gives up the power it provides.

  4. Remember when they hired corrupt Giants super-fan Lisa Friel to be in charge of domestic violence? Talk about the fox guarding the hen house.

  5. WHAT?? You mean no more KEYSTONE COPS insight??!!
    Just like EVERYTHING the league does…..they only care if it’s serves their AGENDA…… enything else is just smoke & mirrors & pandering to the PUBLIC PERCEPTION…… FARCE!!!

  6. People want NFL to wait for the justice system so Foster/Hardy types can “convince” thier victims to settle out of court or Hunt can get away with never being charged as long as he commits crimes in his hometown.

  7. Just let the Justice system do it’s thing. Then suspend the player for 8 games for domestic violence convictions.

    Why 8? They usually put a player on the exempt list anyway and then they suspend him. Just call it 8 and be done with it. But the 8 games must occur after the player has completed all legal requirements i.e. jail time

  8. They absolutely should. Let the legal system that is already in place do its job and act accordingly. Right now its a two tier system you can be innocent in the eyes of the law but guilty in the eyes of the NFL. Personally I got a problem with that.

    The only thing I would say is that sadly nowadays (and maybe always) the rich, famous and public figures are treated very different from your average citizen. I got an even bigger issue with that!

  9. If you have zero legal power to compel people not in your employ to do something, then you can’t investigate thoroughly. Well, unless you’re MLB and pay guys to steal documents, I guess you’ll get it done, but hopefully the NFL doesn’t resort to stuff like that.

  10. I don’t understand why the Hunt police report hasn’t been posted by PFT. Both the league and the Chiefs would of had easy access to that. What gives ?

  11. Obviously.

    If convicted, punish all you want.

    If charged, give the person the presumption of innocence unless you see a video (someone’s allegation is NOT good enough because those are falsified all the time for financial/revenge incentives).

    If not charged, move on.

  12. .
    Former Raiders executive Amy Trask said that she would have first contacted Browns security personnel and requested they use their good offices with the Cleveland Police Department to obtain all pertinent information. That, to me, seems appropriate. The fact that they didn’t utilize their resources tells me that they had little interest in the case.
    .

  13. NFL is a private business. They can do whatever they want – suspend, fine, ignore, or reward him. Seriously, does your company suspend employees for misdemeanour incidents? I doubt it.

  14. The same people who draft very questionable guys or allow the people working for them to do so then throw up their hands and act surprised when said questionable player does something criminal.

    All because that player might help them win 1 or 2 more games than they otherwise might with a different player.

    And to be fair we all make mistakes when we’re young, often very bad ones. But rarely are most people then handed millions and enabled.

    Can’t have it both ways NFL. Either don’t draft/sign the obvious poor character players or expect them not to create problems.

  15. The argument made in the article makes no sense. The league did a minimal investigation of Hunt. They didn’t dig too deep. They didn’t dig at all really. But given that there was no arrest and the victim wasn’t making a public issue of what happened, that’s to be expected. So, they did nothing to discipline Hunt–which is exactly what they should do in that situation.

    When hard evidence appeared, they acted to discipline Hunt, which is exactly what they should do in that situation. They don’t need the justice system to know Hunt committed a violent act that shines a bad light on the league and it’s players.

    The NFL needs to keep doing what they are doing, but digging a little bit deeper when incidents first occur or come their attention.

  16. Wow. Look at all the fake SJWs come out of the woodwork when it’s a football player. Get a clue: the National Organization For Women reports 4.3 million violent assaults and rapes a year. A YEAR. What have you all done about it, other than whine anonymously online about how the NFL is at least TRYING impose a conduct policy?

    Get out there. Volunteer at women’s shelters. Help raise money for charities to promote awareness and stamp out domestic violence. Do something productive, instead of petty sniping at a league that’s actually DOING SOMETHING.

  17. NFL you worry about doing your job which is football and you the legal system, you worry about enforcement of the laws.
    If a player does something illegal just bring the hammer down after they have went through the legal process. The catch is to make it cut, dry, and consistant. You get busted for domestic abuse you get suspended for, just a example, 8 games. You get busted for drugs, 4 games. You want to drive over 100 mph in a 35, 1 game. The numbers are set, you let the players know exactly how it will be from here on out, and there is zero tolerance for illegal behavior that effects the NFL’s bottom line/PR. Playing in the NFL is a job and it should be treated as such. Not sure why this is so hard. It’s not the NFL’s job to play policeman, but seeing as you’re not dealing with the best and brightest of the world, you need players to know exactly what will happen if they screw up.

  18. When has the NFL been in the investigative service? The only time they react, is when there is video, and they have to. Jerry Jones doesn’t want them in the investigative service because that would expose even more of his players.

  19. Uh, my employer doent get involved until the judicial system determines guilt or innocence. Sure, they are attumed to situations yet allow for the system to run its course before determining an employees employment status.

  20. These are sham investigations anyway, just make the NFL look bad. Just let the legal system run its course imo.

  21. Or, if the NFL wants an independent investigative entity, they hire the best company that can do so. But, they have to be fully independent from the NFL front office. Whatever their investigation finds, that’s it. No recommendation of punishment.

    That entities sole purpose it to gather facts. That would probably never be allowed though.

    However, if a player goes to trial for whatever he did, the NFL should abide by the court ruling.

    That being said. The NFL will have another Greg Hardy issue. We all saw and read what happened to the girl. Hardy paid her off. No court action needed. Do you all really want someone on the team you like playing knowing what he did to a woman just because you want your team to win?

    It’s sort of a catch 22 for the NFL. Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t. Yet, the NFL has bungled many issues. Who really knows what they should do.

  22. Even better questions are: 1) Why is the NFL involved in handing out “punishment” to adults?; and 2) Why are people concerned about players, coaches, and front office members personal conduct?

    We’re watching football to cheer for our favorite teams and to be entertained. Why should anyone care if Josh Gordon likes to smoke marijuana? Why should we care if Plaxico and Talib like to carry guns and are dumb enough to shoot themselves? Why should we care if Hunt kicks some woman during an apparently unsolvable incident? Why should we care Steve Keim is busted for DUI?

    None of these and the multiple other situations that result in NFL suspensions have any effect on play on the field. These incidents have no effect on any fan’s life. The NFL should tell fans that it is out of the regulating personal conduct and administering punishment business, and if certain fans don’t like that those fans should find another form of entertainment.

  23. If they are not in jail let them play but put in player contracts that their salary can be lowered.

    Also criminal record must be displayed along with a player’s stats

  24. Lacks the time and resources? No. Lacks the desire for thorough, unbiased investigations that let the chips fall where they may? Yes.a

    They should have an independent investigative arm that isn’t influenced by owners or league officials.

  25. Normal folks are fired for comments on social media, even though at the time, those remarks don’t represent the company. The business thinks it reflects bad on them by improper conduct of employees. The NFL and other teams need to police their employees and tell the world we don’t approve of any time of abuse.

  26. this just galls me. The owners in the league were more than willing to “investigate” the Patriots, dumping millions of dollars down the drain chasing a farts worth of air. The Patriot fans all said “wait til its your turn”, we we were all laughed at and derided… Well, now its your turn –

    Dallas & Elliot
    KC & Hunt
    NYG & Manning (i still cannot believe eli faced no repercussions for fraud)
    Baltimore/Jimmy Smith
    J’Ville/Fowler
    SF/Foster
    Raiders/everybody it seems
    Philly/Bradham
    Tampa/The doofus QB

    Im sure there are more… So now its all yours turn, and its now maybe the NFL should not investigate things? lol…

  27. Investigating in-house or leaving it all up to the police/judicial system aren’t the only choices. They could have an independent third party do investigations. Now, we all know that the League’s idea of independence is a joke, so it could be an entity agreed upon by the NFL and the NFLPA, with all communications from the investigator having to involve both organizations. There would be complexities definitely, but at least the NFL would be able to point to somebody else and throw up their hands during the media frenzy part, which is what they would probably prefer to do, now that everybody knows how completely incompetent, inconsistent and unprincipled they are.

  28. Some owners wonder whether NFL should get out of investigation business

    >>> And then do what? Depend on police departments like Cleveland that refuse to investigate these crimes against NFL players, NOW THAT’S JUST BRILLIANT!!!

  29. remizak says:
    December 8, 2018 at 10:19 am
    Investigating in-house or leaving it all up to the police/judicial system aren’t the only choices. They could have an independent third party do investigations.

    >>>The problem with that as we saw in the Hunt case is those 3rd party investigators wouldn’t have any right to these businesses video evidence, so how would they be able to do anything that even resembles a thorough investagation without the most important piece of evidence, the video?

  30. Enough with the drama. The NFL needs to decide whether they’re all in or all out on this issue. If they’re in, dedicate resources, define parameters and enforce them consistently. If not, depend on law enforcement to do their job and live with the outcome. Why is this so hard to understand?

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