NEW YORK (AP) — The NFL players’ union wants to negotiate with the league in changing the personal conduct policy.
In a memo sent to each NFLPA player representative and executive board member, and obtained by The Associated Press on Thursday, the union cites the NFL’s “mismanagement” of several incidents, including the Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson cases.
The memo contends the league has “inconsistencies that have led to the lack of credibility and damage to our brand.”
The union says the league has not complied with the labor agreement reached in 2011 in regard to personal conduct discipline.
The memo mentions “imposed superficial changes to the adjudication process,” apparently referring to Commissioner Roger Goodell installing stronger punishment for first-time offenders of the policy.
An NFL spokesman noted in an email to The Associated Press that “the personal conduct policy and its predecessors have been in place since 1997. They have never been the subject of collective bargaining and the union has never before claimed that they should be. The union knows this, which is why it has made no proposals on the personal conduct policy.”
Goodell announced in August a stiffer penalty for players involved with domestic violence after originally suspending Rice for two games for punching his then-fiancee in a casino elevator. Goodell acknowledged the punishment was too lenient. The guideline now calls for a six-game suspension for a first offense.
“We remain committed to discussing these issues with the league and the NFL owners,” the union memo said, “and will continue to call on them to recognize collective bargaining as the best and only solution to the issues of prevention, education, due process and discipline.”
The union believes the league has ignored “due diligence and due process” in its handling of cases under the personal conduct policy. The memo accuses the NFL of refusing to honor an agreement in Peterson’s case, and it calls for “a full and fair hearing before a neutral arbitrator” for all players in all disciplinary cases.
The league spokesman said the NFL has talked with the union about a number of possible changes to the disciplinary system, “but the NFLPA has refused to seriously entertain any of the NFL’s ideas.”
“We have discussed the use of review panels consisting of outside experts who would offer broader perspective and subject matter expertise in considering matters under the policy,” the spokesman said. “The union has resisted the use of outside experts.”
The NFL also suggested using independent investigations of alleged player misconduct “to ensure full and objective fact-finding,” the spokesman added.
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