Monday, July 25, 2011

From Britt to Pacman: Does the NFL Personal Conduct Policy Apply During the Lockout

During the lockout, there have been over 20 incidents that could attract the application of the NFL's Personal Conduct Policy.

Here's some of what went down during the lockout:

Chris Cook (brandishing a handgun). Mario Henderson (carrying a concealed weapon). Bryan McCann (public intoxication). Johnny Jolly (drug possession). Jason Peters (disturbing the peace).Aqib Talib (aggravated assault with a deadly weapon). Louis Murphy (drug possession). Mike Vrabel (felony theft). Kenny Britt (eluding police, obstruction). William Moore (speeding, driving with suspended license). Antwan Applewhite (drunken driving suspicion). Alex Magee (marijuana possession). Garrett Wolfe (theft, disorderly conduct, assaulting an officer, resisting arrest with violence). Kenny Britt (resisting arrest). Javarris James (drug possession).Brandon Underwood (disorderly conduct). Raheem Brock (theft, resisting arrest). Akeem Jordan (assault and battery). Hines Ward (drunken driving).  Pacman Jones (disorderly conduct while intoxicated and resisting arrest ).

The NFL has said all along that it will apply the Policy to players who violated it during the lockout. Here's what league spokesman Greg Aiello said on the matter:

“It is a league policy established by the commissioner. We review any violations of law by NFL employees for potential discipline. The personal conduct policy is not being applied to players now but will be applied when they return. Players will be held accountable for violations of law that occurred during the lockout.”

The Policy starts with this language:
"All persons associated with the NFL are required to avoid “conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the National Football League.” This requirement applies to players, coaches, other team employees, owners, game officials and all others privileged to work in the National Football League."
The question is this: can the NFL enforce the Policy for conduct that occurred during the lockout?

Well the answer falls in a grey area. On the one hand, the NFL would argue that even though the players were locked out, they remained employees and the Policy covers the conduct of employees. On top of that, the Policy is not part of the CBA, which had expired.

On the flip side, the players would argue that the lockout deprived them of the benefits of their employment. That being said, how could they still be accountable to discharge their employment obligations?

So there is no clear cut answer on the issue. It's possible that the sides may have considered this in their negotiations. If they didn't, and the NFL looks to enforce the Policy, look for the reformed Union to fight it.

No comments: