NFL Owners Approve New Conduct Policy

1:33pm: The NFLPA has released a statement on the newly-approved policy, and the union predictably doesn’t sound happy about the league’s announcement. Here’s the statement, in full:

“Our union has not been offered the professional courtesy of seeing the NFL’s new personal conduct policy before it hit the presses. Their unilateral decision and conduct today is the only thing that has been consistent over the past few months.”

12:59pm: The league has issued a formal press release, touches on a few new details of the policy, and laying out how the investigative and disciplinary processes will play out in the event of a potential violation of the conduct policy.

For the initial discipline, the NFL will appoint “a highly qualified league office executive with a criminal justice background.” Goodell will handle appeals of suspensions. Additionally, a committee headed by Cardinals owner Michael Bidwil will review the conduct policy annually and recommend appropriate changes, with the help of outside experts.

12:29pm: After announcing earlier this season that he wanted to have a new personal conduct policy in place before the Super Bowl, commissioner Roger Goodell has beaten his self-imposed deadline by more than a month and a half. Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal and Albert Breer of the NFL Network (Twitter links) report that NFL owners voted today in Dallas on a new policy, approving the proposal. According to Breer (via Twitter), the proposed conduct policy was voted through unanimously.

As we noted this morning, the NFL Players Association was upset at not having been more involved in the creation of the new personal conduct policy, and the two sides had not reached common ground on a number of issues, so it will be interesting to see what the approved proposal looks like.

Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports and Ian Rapoport of (Twitter links) have some early details, writing that some of the points of emphasis in the policy include prompt reporting of incidents, paid leave for those facing charges, and independent investigations of incidents (rather than relying on police investigations). Garafalo adds (via Twitter) that Goodell’s role under the new policy will be as an appeals officer only — a newly-created special counsel will oversee initial disciplinary rulings.

While some of those aspects of the policy should be good news for the NFLPA, the union intends to immediately study the new policy in search of provisions and topics that would be mandatory subjects of collective bargaining, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk wrote earlier today. According to Florio, if there are terms in the policy that require collective bargaining, the NFLPA will file a “system arbitration” proceeding under the labor deal or initiate an action with the National Labor Relations Board, or both.

In other words, while the league’s owners may have unanimously approved the league’s proposal, the issue likely won’t be put to rest immediately. We’ll await further details on the intricacies of the policy and the union’s reaction.

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