NFL owners have approved a new personal conduct policy, effective immediately. One of the changes outlined in the new policy will be the hiring of a special counsel for investigations. The NFL will be more clearly utilizing independent parties for overseeing initial discipline, with commissioner Roger Goodell playing less of a role.
The sports league has faced heavy criticism this year after its handling of high-profile cases involving players Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson. The new policy includes an updated list of prohibited conduct. Incidents of family violence, including domestic violence and child abuse, will result in a six-game suspension without pay. There will also be an option of paid leave during investigations of employees charged with violent crimes.
The NFL Players Association issued a statement regarding the new policy, explaining that it was not allowed to exercise its collective bargaining rights prior to the vote. The union has the option to file a grievance, with the charge that this was an unfair labor practice.
The new policy is the latest step in a number of moves the NFL has made this year in an effort to deal with employee misconduct. In September, the league hired three domestic violence experts as advisors. Three more experts have since been added to the team, including Beth Richie, the director of the Institute of Research on Race and Public Policy at the University of Chicago.
According to a recent Sports Illustrated article, the league has had 14 players arrested for violence against women in the past two years.
The NFL policy pertains to all employees, including coaches, owners and office employees. The league tweeted a link to a flow chart of the new policy, explaining that clubs are mandated to promptly report potential violations. The flow chart also states that clubs must "fully cooperate with any related law enforcement and NFL investigations."