NFL threatens to take draft picks from teams that pose improper questions to draft prospects

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Every year, we hear stories about questionable questions being posed to draft prospects. There’s no question that the NFL is finally taking the situation seriously, especially because these questions have caused both P.R. problems and, apparently, legal issues for the NFL.

In a memo recently sent to all teams, the league office threatened to strip a draft pick no later than the fourth round and to fine the team a minimum of $150,000 for conduct that is “disrespectful, inappropriate, or unprofessional” during player interviews. Fines and/or suspensions of individual employees also could be imposed.

The memo, first reported by Rob Maaddi of the Associated Press and a copy of which PFT separately has obtained, explains that “occasional reports of improper and/or offensive questions” posed to players during the pre-draft process “have resulted in multiple inquiries from state attorneys general about the pre-draft process, requiring the detailed and time-consuming production of documents and information and risking potential liability for clubs and the NFL.”

The memo reviews the types of questions that must be avoided during interview with draft prospects and free agents, including: (1) race; (2) color; (3) disabilities; (4) national origin; (5) religion; (6) marital status; and (7) sexual orientation.

“You should under no circumstances ask about any of these subjects prior to drafting or signing a player,” the memo explains, with the emphasis in the memo. “Prospects are encouraged to report offensive conduct without retaliation.” The document then spells out acceptable and impermissible questions as to the forbidden subjects and other topics.

“All clubs should ensure that prospective draft picks are afforded a respectful and professional NFL environment — one that is consistent with state and federal law and our shared commitment to respect, diversity and inclusion,” the memo explains.

Nothing gets the attention of teams like the potential loss of draft picks. Fines become a cost of doing business; losing draft picks impacts the ability to do business.

Frankly, it’s amazing it took this long for the league to get tough when it comes to the various improper questions that get asked in order to (as coaches and executives would say) assess and explore the manner in which a player deals with stress or unexpected developments. To the extent that this will still be part of the plan for dealing with incoming players, there are certain areas that must indeed be avoided, or else.

9 responses to “NFL threatens to take draft picks from teams that pose improper questions to draft prospects

  1. The whole draft process and combine is a joke. Just look at the tape and can the guy play football or not? who cares about what he does without pads on? You can’t measure heart and will to win. TB12 is best example.

  2. I’m not saying that these penalties shouldn’t exist – but here’s the challenge. There are only 32 teams. Do people want to risk impacting their draft status and/or ability to make a team by being a whistleblower? The draft is subjective and unless someone is a world class talent, people get removed from draft boards all of the time. And unless these interactions are taped it comes down to he said/he said. I think it would be tough to see results from this.

  3. Sad you cant ask someone you plan to pay millions and trust within your franchise anything you want.

  4. They should just call it the Jeff Ireland/Dez Bryant rule. This should have been done Years ago

  5. Can you imagine sitting in a job interview with a business and you get asked if your mother was a prostitute? Because that’s exactly what they asked Dez Bryant. Most large businesses furnish training to employees who interview/hire outside candidates for positions. It’s mind-boggling that people don’t comprehend the fact that if you ask someone such an obviously off-limit question about something like their marital status or orientation that it’s grounds for legal action discrimination/harassment.

  6. So who determines what an appropriate question is? I bet the league office and every one of the 32 teams would offer up a slightly different definition.

  7. #3 explains why the wonderlic test isn’t allowed by the league. Too many SEC players thought wonderlic meant whoever licks it best wins.

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