The NFL has issued new rules for all employees involved in the NFL. No Players Union input was allowed and apparently, it is non-negotiable.
The call it a Personal Conduct Policy, and it reads as if they are returning the NFL back to the day when people looked up to the players as role models.
Unfortunately, it points out that just being accused of a crime can result in punishment from the NFL. Their reasoning is that such conduct is damaging to the NFL Brand (as if it wasn’t already damaged). You want to work for the NFL, you’d better behave.
You can read the policy below.
PERSONAL CONDUCT POLICY
It is a privilege to be part of the National Football League. Everyone who is part of the
league must refrain from “conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in” the NFL.
This includes owners, coaches, players, other team employees, game officials, and employees of the
league office, NFL Films, NFL Network, or any other NFL business.
Conduct by anyone in the league that is illegal, violent, dangerous, or irresponsible puts
innocent victims at risk, damages the reputation of others in the game, and undercuts public respect
and support for the NFL. We must endeavor at all times to be people of high character; we must
show respect for others inside and outside our workplace; and we must strive to conduct ourselves in
ways that favorably reflect on ourselves, our teams, the communities we represent, and the NFL.
To this end, the league has increased education regarding respect and appropriate behavior,
has provided resources for all employees to assist them in conforming their behavior to the standards
expected of them, and has made clear that the league’s goal is to prevent violations of the Personal
Conduct Policy. In order to uphold our high standards, when violations of this Personal Conduct
Policy do occur, appropriate disciplinary action must follow.
This Personal Conduct Policy is issued pursuant to the Commissioner’s authority under the
Constitution and Bylaws to address and sanction conduct detrimental to the league and professional
This policy applies to the Commissioner; all owners; all employees of the NFL, NFL clubs,
and all NFL-related entities, including players under contract, coaches, game officials; all rookie
players selected in the NFL college draft and all undrafted rookie players, unsigned veterans who
were under contract in the prior League Year; and other prospective employees once they commence
negotiations with a club concerning employment. Clubs and league staff are strongly encouraged to
communicate this policy to independent contractors and consultants and to make clear that violations
of this policy will be grounds for terminating a business relationship.
Expectations and Standards of Conduct
It is not enough simply to avoid being found guilty of a crime. We are all held to a higher
standard and must conduct ourselves in a way that is responsible, promotes the values of the NFL,
and is lawful.
If you are convicted of a crime or subject to a disposition of a criminal proceeding (as
defined in this Policy), you are subject to discipline. But even if your conduct does not result in a
criminal conviction, if the league finds that you have engaged in any of the following conduct, you
will be subject to discipline. Prohibited conduct includes but is not limited to the following:
– Actual or threatened physical violence against another person, including dating violence,
domestic violence, child abuse, and other forms of family violence;
- Assault and/or battery, including sexual assault or other sex offenses;
- Violent or threatening behavior toward another employee or a third party in any
– Stalking, harassment, or similar forms of intimidation;
– Illegal possession of a gun or other weapon (such as explosives, toxic substances, and the
like), or possession of a gun or other weapon in any workplace setting;
– Illegal possession, use, or distribution of alcohol or drugs;
- Possession, use, or distribution of steroids or other performance enhancing substances;
– Crimes involving cruelty to animals as defined by state or federal law;
- Crimes of dishonesty such as blackmail, extortion, fraud, money laundering, or
– Theft-related crimes such as burglary, robbery, or larceny;
– Disorderly conduct;
– Crimes against law enforcement, such as obstruction, resisting arrest, or harming a police
officer or other law enforcement officer;
– Conduct that poses a genuine danger to the safety and well-being of another person; and
– Conduct that undermines or puts at risk the integrity of the NFL, NFL clubs, or NFL
What Happens When a Violation of This Policy is Suspected?
Evaluation, Counseling, and Services – Anyone arrested or charged with conduct that
would violate this policy will be offered a formal clinical evaluation, the cost of which will be paid
by the league, and appropriate follow-up education, counseling, or treatment programs. In cases
reviewed for possible disciplinary action, the employee’s decision to make beneficial use of these
clinical services will be considered a positive factor in determining eventual discipline if a violation is found. These evaluations will be available at designated facilities around the country on a confidential basis. The employee may select the particular provider at the designated facility.
In appropriate cases (for example, cases involving domestic violence or child abuse), the
league will make available assistance to victims and families, as well as the employee. This
assistance may include providing or direction to appropriate counseling, social and other services,
clergy, medical professionals, and specialists in dealing with children and youth. These resources
will be provided through specialized Critical Response Teams affiliated with the league office and
with member clubs. These teams will develop standard protocols based on experts’ recommendations
of appropriate and constructive responses to reported incidents of violence, particularly incidents of
domestic violence, child abuse, or sexual assault. These response teams will assist victims and
families in matters of personal security and other needs following a reported incident. In addition,
information about local non-league resources to help victims and family members will be provided to
Investigations – Whenever the league office becomes aware of a possible violation of the
Personal Conduct Policy, it will undertake an investigation, the timing and scope of which will be
based upon the particular circumstances of the matter. Any such investigation may be conducted by
NFL Security, independent parties, or by a combination of the two. In cases that are also being
investigated by law enforcement, the league will work to cooperate with and to avoid any conflict or
interference with the law enforcement proceedings.
In conducting investigations, the league office will make reasonable efforts to safeguard
requests for confidentiality from witnesses and others with information. In addition, the league will
not tolerate any retaliation against anyone who in good faith reports a possible violation or provides
truthful information during an investigation. Any person who directly or indirectly through others
interferes in any manner with an investigation, including by retaliating or threatening to retaliate 4
against a victim or witness, will face separate disciplinary action under this policy. Prohibited
retaliation includes, but is not limited to: threats, intimidation, harassment, any other adverse action threatened, expressly or impliedly, or taken against anyone who reports a violation or suspected
violation of this Policy or who participates in an investigation of a complaint.
In investigating a potential violation, the league may rely on information obtained by law
enforcement agencies, court records, or independent investigations conducted at the direction of the
NFL. League and team employees are required to cooperate in any such investigation and are
obligated to be fully responsive and truthful in responding to requests from investigators for
information (testimony, documents, physical evidence, or other information) that may bear on
whether the Policy has been violated. A failure to cooperate with an investigation or to be truthful in
responding to inquiries will be separate grounds for disciplinary action. Players who are interviewed
in the course of an investigation may be accompanied by an NFLPA representative as provided by
Article 51, Section 11 of the CBA.
Because the Fifth Amendment’s protection against self-incrimination does not apply in a
workplace investigation, the league will reserve the right to compel an employee to cooperate in its
investigations even when the employee is the target of a pending law enforcement investigation or
proceeding. An employee’s refusal to speak to a league investigator under such circumstances will
not preclude an investigation from proceeding or discipline from being imposed.
Leave with Pay – You may be placed on paid administrative leave or on the Commissioner
Exempt List under either of the following circumstances:
First, you are formally charged with a crime of violence, meaning that you are accused of having
used physical force or a weapon to injure or threaten another person, of having engaged in a sexual
assault by force or a sexual assault of a person who was incapable of giving consent, of having
engaged in other conduct that poses a genuine danger to the safety or well-being of another person,
or of having engaged in animal abuse. The formal charges may be in the form of an indictment by
a grand jury, the filing of charges by a prosecutor, or an arraignment in a criminal court.
Second, if an investigation leads the Commissioner to believe that you may have violated this
Policy by committing any of the conduct identified above, he may act where the circumstances and
evidence warrant doing so. This decision will not reflect a finding of guilt or innocence and will
not be guided by the same legal standards and considerations that would apply in a criminal trial. 5
In cases in which a violation relating to a crime of violence is suspected but further
investigation is required, the Commissioner may determine to place a player or other employee on
leave with pay on a limited and temporary basis to permit the league to conduct an investigation.
Based on the results of this investigation, the player or employee may be returned to duty, be placed
on leave with pay for a longer period, or be subject to discipline.
A player who is placed on the Commissioner Exempt List may not practice or attend games,
but with the club’s permission he may be present at the club’s facility on a reasonable basis for
meetings, individual workouts, therapy and rehabilitation, and other permitted non-football activities.
Non-player employees placed on paid administrative leave may be present only on such basis as is
approved by the Commissioner or the league disciplinary officer and only under circumstances in
which they are not performing their regular duties.
Leave with pay will generally last until the league makes a disciplinary decision and any
appeal from that discipline is fully resolved.
Discipline – You have violated this policy if you have a disposition of a criminal proceeding
(as defined), or if the evidence gathered by the league’s investigation demonstrates that you engaged
in conduct prohibited by the Personal Conduct Policy. In cases where you are not charged with a
crime, or are charged but not convicted, you may still be found to have violated the Policy if the
credible evidence establishes that you engaged in conduct prohibited by this Personal Conduct
Initial decisions regarding discipline will be made by a disciplinary officer, a member of the
league office staff who will be a highly-qualified individual with a criminal justice background. The
disciplinary officer will follow the process outlined below and will make the initial decision on
discipline pursuant to a delegation of the Commissioner’s authority, subject to any appeal. In cases
involving league staff, decisions may also be made by senior Human Resources executives consistent
with the terms of this Policy.
To assist in evaluating a potential violation, expert and independent advisors may be
consulted by the disciplinary officer, the Commissioner, and others as needed. Such advisors may
include former players and others with appropriate backgrounds and experience in law enforcement,
academia, judicial and public service, mental health, and persons with other specialized subject
Employees who are subject to discipline will be given notice of the potential violation for
which discipline may be imposed. The employee will be furnished with the records and other reports
that the disciplinary officer has relied on in addressing the matter, including records from law
enforcement and a copy of any investigatory report and any documents relied upon by a league
investigator in generating the report. The employee will be permitted to submit information in
writing to rebut or otherwise respond to the report. In addition, the employee will have the
opportunity to meet with the investigator and disciplinary officer in advance of discipline being
imposed. In cases where there has been a criminal disposition, the underlying disposition may not be
challenged in a disciplinary hearing and the court’s judgment and factual findings shall be conclusive
and binding, and only the level of discipline will be at issue. Once the record is complete, the
disciplinary officer will issue a written decision setting forth the reasons for as well as the amount
and nature of the discipline to be imposed.
Depending on the nature of the violation and the record of the employee, discipline may be a
fine, a suspension for a fixed or an indefinite period of time, a requirement of community service, a
combination of the three, or banishment from the league. Discipline may also include requirements
to seek ongoing counseling, treatment, or therapy where appropriate as well as the imposition of
enhanced supervision. It may also include a probationary period and conditions that must be met for
reinstatement and to remain eligible to participate in the league. Repeat offenders will be subject to
enhanced and/or expedited discipline, including banishment from the league. In determining
discipline, both aggravating and mitigating factors will be considered.
Ownership and club or league management have traditionally been held to a higher standard
and will be subject to more significant discipline when violations of the Personal Conduct Policy
With regard to violations of the Personal Conduct Policy that involve assault, battery,
domestic violence, dating violence, child abuse and other forms of family violence, or sexual assault
involving physical force or committed against someone incapable of giving consent, a first offense
will subject the offender to a baseline suspension without pay of six games, with consideration given
to any aggravating or mitigating factors. The presence of possible aggravating factors may warrant a
longer suspension. Possible aggravating factors include, but are not limited to, a prior violation of
the Personal Conduct Policy, similar misconduct before joining the NFL, violence involving a
weapon, choking, repeated striking, or when an act is committed against a particularly vulnerable
person, such as a child, a pregnant woman, or an elderly person, or where the act is committed in the
presence of a child. A second offense will result in permanent banishment from the NFL. An
individual who has been banished may petition for reinstatement after one year, but there is no
presumption or assurance that the petition will be granted.
Appeals of any disciplinary decision will be processed pursuant to Article 46 of the
Collective Bargaining Agreement for players or pursuant to the applicable league procedures for nonplayers.
The Commissioner may name a panel that consists of independent experts to recommend a
decision on the appeal.
Reporting – Clubs are obligated to promptly report any matter that comes to their attention
(through, for example, victim or witness reports, law enforcement, media reports) that may constitute
a violation of this Policy. Clubs are expected to educate their employees on this obligation to report.
League employees who are aware of an incident that may violate this Personal Conduct Policy have a
similar obligation to report the matter. Reports should be made to any of Robert Gulliver or Tara
Wood of Human Resources, Jeffrey Miller of NFL Security or Adolpho Birch of the Management
Council legal staff. Questions about whether an incident triggers a reporting obligation should be
directed to a member of the Management Council legal staff.
Failure to report an incident will be grounds for disciplinary action. This obligation to report
is broader than simply reporting an arrest; it requires reporting to the league any incident that comes
to the club’s attention which, if the allegations were true, would constitute a violation of the Personal Conduct Policy.
Anyone who believes that he or she is a victim of conduct that violates the Personal Conduct
Policy or who witnesses such conduct is strongly encouraged to report the matter to the club or the
league office. Reports will be addressed promptly and confidentially, and the Critical Response
Team will be available to address issues regarding victim and family security and other support
services. Any employee with questions regarding either this reporting obligation or any other aspect
of this Personal Conduct Policy may contact either the Security or Human Resources department, or
the NFL Management Council.
Conduct Committee – To ensure that this policy remains current and consistent with best
practices and evolving legal and social standards, the Commissioner has named a Conduct
Committee. This committee will be made up of NFL owners, who will review this policy at least 8
annually and recommend any appropriate changes in the policy, including investigatory practices,
disciplinary levels or procedures, or service components. The committee will receive regular reports
from the disciplinary officer, and may seek advice from current and former players, as well as a
broad and diverse group of outside experts regarding best practices in academic, business, and public
sector settings, and will review developments in similar workplace policies in other settings.
“Disposition of a Criminal Proceeding” – Includes an adjudication of guilt or admission to a
criminal violation; a plea to a lesser included offense; a plea of nolo contendere or no contest; or the disposition of the proceeding through a diversionary program, deferred adjudication, disposition of
supervision, conditional dismissal, or similar arrangements.
“Probationary Period” – Persons found to have violated this policy may be placed on a period
of probation as determined by the Commissioner. During such period, restrictions on certain
activities, limitations on participation in Club activities, or other conditions may be imposed. Failure to comply with such conditions may result in additional discipline including an extension of the period of suspension.
“Repeat Offenders” – Persons who have had previous violations of law or of this policy may
be considered repeat offenders. When appropriate, conduct occurring prior to the person’s
association with the NFL will be considered.
“Workplace Setting” – the workplace setting means any location or conveyance used in
connection with NFL activities, including the club facility, training camp, stadium, locker room,
location at which a club-sponsored event takes place, and while traveling on team or NFL-related