NFL Owners Unanimously Approve Much Stricter Conduct Policy — Will Include Independent Investigations

Danny Cox - Author
By

Dec. 10 2014, Updated 10:03 a.m. ET

The owners of the NFL unanimously approved on Wednesday, December 10, to bring in a revised personal conduct policy. With all the issues and situations with Ray Rice, Greg Hardy, and numerous other players in the past year, this was a long time coming, and it’s something that will even include independent investigations to have Commissioner Roger Goodell almost entirely removed from the process.

According to ESPN, the new conduct policy is going to be one that is “tough” and “better” for all those that are associated with the NFL. That includes the players, coaching staffs, and executives in the league offices.

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The way the new NFL conduct policy is going to work is that a special counsel for investigations and conduct will oversee the initial discipline. While Goodell does have authority to rule on appeals, he will also have the option to appoint a panel of independent experts to help in the appeal decision.

Here are some of the key points from the new NFL conduct policy memo sent to team owners from Roger Goodell.

• The NFL has decided it can “no longer defer entirely to the decisions of the criminal justice system, which is governed by processes and considerations that are not appropriate to a workplace, especially a workplace as visible and influential as ours.”

• The new policy will “embrace the use of independent investigations.” To that end, the NFL will explore hiring a special counsel for investigations and conduct.

• The policy will implement an element of leave with pay during investigations of persons charged with violent crimes.

• The new policy “essentially removes the commissioner from the initial disciplinary proceedings,” though the commissioner will maintain his role in the appeals process, but establishes “a more rigorous and transparent process for those initial disciplinary decisions.”

CBS News had reported that the new conduct policy of the NFL was actually going to borrow points from that of the New York Police Department.

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The NYPD immediately puts an office accused of domestic violence on paid leave and then conducts an internal investigation. That all is in place while the criminal justice system plays out so an ultimate ruling can be made. This same rule is now in place for the NFL as well.

Roger Goodell’s memo is one that details how changes have been needed to the NFL conduct policy and that this was necessary for all involved.

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“Each is a societal problem that is frequently underreported. As a league, we must have a continued focus on the needs of victims and families; among other things, we must encourage victims and those who observe such misconduct to come forward, to report offenses, and to seek help.

“We can no longer defer entirely to the decisions of the criminal justice system, which is governed by processes and considerations that are not appropriate to a workplace, especially a workplace as visible and influential as ours.”

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In the past six months alone, the NFL has come under much scrutiny for the way the domestic violence situations and other issues have been handled. That criticism was especially harsh on Goodell, but this new conduct policy is not just to alleviate that, but to make sure justice is rightly served.

[Image via Getty Images/NFL]

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