Bad Press For The NFL Leads to Enhanced Personal Conduct Policy

In the wake of countless controversies of the NFL regarding sexual assaults and domestic violence, the NFL has officially announced that it has a revised and strengthened Personal Conduct Policy for all NFL employees. Over the past several months, domestic violence has been a prevailing problem in the NFL with two of the most notorious instances revolving around Ray Rice, former running back and Super Bowl Champion with the Baltimore Ravens, and Adrian Peterson, suspended running back for the Minnesota Vikings.

Rice, originally known for his outstanding performance on the field, including in the Super Bowl of 2012, is now widely known for the notorious video in which he assaulted his then fiancée, now wife, Janay Palmer, in an elevator in Atlantic City. Adrian Peterson, holding the single game rushing record and many awards for his rushing performance on the football field, is currently suspended indefinitely for beating his 4 year old son with a thin tree branch also known as a “switch.”  While these are some of the most public instances of domestic violence as of late, the NFL has additionally been repeatedly plagued with allegations of sexual abuse including; two separate allegations of sexual assault by the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Super Bowl winning quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and an additional sexual assault investigation of Dallas Cowboys defensive safety C.J. Spillman.

In light of the high level of bad publicity, the NFL teams have unanimously endorsed a new Personal Conduct Policy for all of the NFL employees. This policy is believed to significantly build upon the foundation laid by the NFL’s previous conduct program, most recently revised in 2007.  The new policy could help to dispel some of the criticism directed at the league, players, and commissioner, over the handling of the high profile cases involving Rice and Peterson. Commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell, stated, “With considerable assistance from the many people and organizations we consulted, NFL ownership has endorsed an enhanced policy that is significantly more robust, thorough, and formal.”

Changes to this policy lay out a more extensive list of prohibited conduct as well as NFL-funded counseling services for victims, families, and violators. Additionally, the new policy has increased the mandatory “baseline” suspension to 6 games without pay for a first violation in domestic abuse and sexual assault cases. Punishment can range anywhere from community service, based on the violation, to banishment from the NFL.  A criminal conviction will not be necessary for the NFL to take action, however anyone found in violation will be given a chance to respond to any findings before punishment is announced.

In order to garner a level of “good press,” the NFL has not only focused on the strengthened punishment for the violators, but also on the help, including; specialists in dealing with children, counseling, social services, and any other treatment that may be applicable to the victims.

While this is a push for the overall reputation of the NFL, the NFL Players Association expressed their displeasure about being excluded from the drafting and bargaining of this policy. The union could consider this policy enacted by the owners a violation of the collective bargaining agreement, giving the union cause to file a grievance.

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