NFL teams endorse new conduct policy

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Dallas, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - NFL teams on Wednesday unanimously approved a revised and strengthened personal conduct policy at a league meeting in Dallas.

"With considerable assistance from the many people and organizations we consulted, NFL ownership has endorsed an enhanced policy that is significantly more robust, thorough, and formal," commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "We now have a layered evaluation process to take into account a diversity of expert views. This will better enable us to make appropriate decisions and ensure accountability for everyone involved in the process."

Arizona Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill was appointed to serve as chairman of a nine-member committee that will oversee the new policy. The other members are Falcons owner Arthur Blank, Chiefs owner Clark Hunt, Dee Haslam, the wife of Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, Cowboys executive vice president and chair of The NFL Foundation Charlotte Jones Anderson, Bears owner George McCaskey, Texans owner Robert McNair, and two former NFL players with ownership stakes -- Warrick Dunn (Falcons) and John Stallworth (Pittsburgh Steelers).

The NFL Players Association issued a statement, expressing its displeasure that changes to the policy weren't collectively bargained.

"Our union has not been offered the professional courtesy of seeing the NFL's new personal conduct policy before it hit the presses. Their unilateral decision and conduct today is the only thing that has been consistent over the past few months," the union said.

Among the policy's new measures:

- Independent investigative procedures.

- A baseline suspension of six games without pay for violations involving assault, battery, domestic violence, dating violence, child abuse, other forms of family violence, or sexual assault, with consideration given to possible mitigating or aggravating circumstances.

- The appointment by the commissioner of a highly-qualified league office executive with a criminal justice background to issue initial discipline. The disciplinary officer will be hired for a newly created position of Special Counsel for Investigations and Conduct. This individual will oversee the NFL's investigatory procedures and determine discipline for violations of the Personal Conduct Policy. For players, this is consistent with past practice under the CBA in which a member of the commissioner's staff has generally issued discipline for off-field misconduct.

- An appeals process pursuant to Article 46 (Commissioner Discipline) of the Collective Bargaining Agreement for players or to applicable club or league procedures for non-players. The commissioner may name a panel that consists of independent experts to participate in deciding an appeal.

- Specific criteria for paid leave for an individual formally charged with a crime of violence, including domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse.

According to the policy, a player may still be subject to discipline even if the individual's actions does not result in a criminal conviction.

The new policy will also make available expanded services of evaluation and counseling to all NFL employees.