06-30-2010, 11:31 AM
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Planet Earth - Seattle area
Carpenter: League policy for misbehavior must be the same for everyone
According to Les Carpenter of YahooSports.com , the NFL needs the strengthen and clarify their conduct policy.
Three springs ago, back when Pacman Jones roamed the strip clubs and Tank Johnson(notes) carried enough small arms to supply a militia, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell decided his league had an image problem. This has been part of Goodell’s genius: realizing when the public relations are going bad and reacting quickly to squelch the disaster. he produced a two-page document the NFL called its “Personal Conduct Policy,” a vague but nonetheless strong statement essentially explaining that any player, coach, team official or league executive caught doing something wrong could face dire consequences. It never spelled out what those consequences actually were. Everything was left to “the discretion of the Commissioner.”
Goodell's "discretion" was to rule hard. Pacman Jones was supended was suspended for the entire 2007 season. Bengals receiver Chris Henry was suspended 8 games. Ben Rothlisburgert is facing a 6-game suspension despite never having been arrested.
Unfortunately, NFL players did not stop misbehaving and the Personal Conduct Policy provides few clear answers. Instead, it seems to mean different things depending on the profile of the player.
Over the weekend, Detroit Lions president Tom Lewand was arrested for a DUI. As DUI arrests go this was especially untidy. In the video, released by police, Lewand’s car appears to weave back and forth. He is supposedly so drunk that one of the arresting officers shouts “whew, you’ve been drinking man” as Lewand wobbles from the car. Yet even when faced with a mountain of evidence to his intoxication, he insists that he is sober. He tries to talk his way out of taking a breathalyzer. When he finally does breath into one, he is arrested immediately.
In some ways this seems much more serious than Pacman throwing out a stack of $100 bills in a strip club. The more publicized the behavior, the harsher the punishment.
So what do you do with the chief executives of one of your franchises. Should the punishment be worse?
Ultimately, as the league’s conduct policy heads into its fourth year it needs to advance. It can not continue to rely upon a quickly-written document dashed off in the heat of a bad PR week to define the future of its behavioral policy. A good policy can be an excellent deterrent. Nothing motivates a player like the loss of a paycheck. Yet the punishments must be handed out evenly, the consequences laid out long in advance before the TV cameras have even descended on the scene.. Perhaps DUIs a an automatic 2-game suspension for players and three months for executives.
Maybe DUIs are automatic two-game suspensions for players and three months for executives. Whatever they are, let them be defined. Let everyone know what they face. Let them understand there is little room for appeal. For years this has worked when the crime is steroids. The time has come to simplify conduct as well.
Ten years ago this might not have mattered. In the old days no one seemed to care much about player contact and a tape of a drunk Lions President might not have made the news
Now it does matter to the public and the league. Now it is time to make the punishment the same for everybody.
I'm open to suggestions about how to do that.
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