IRVING, Texas (CBSNewYork/AP) — NFL owners unanimously approved changes to the league personal conduct policy Wednesday, but Commissioner Roger Goodell will retain authority to rule on appeals.
A special counsel for investigations and conduct will oversee initial discipline, Goodell said.
“This will be a highly qualified individual with a criminal justice background hired as soon as possible for the newly created position,” Goodell said. “The person will oversee our investigations and decide the discipline for violations of the policy.”
The commissioner also may appoint a panel of independent experts to participate in appeals.
After the Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson cases, a more extensive list of prohibited conduct will be included in the policy, as well as specific criteria for paid leave for anyone charged with a violent crime.
A suspension of six games without pay for violations involving assault, sexual assault, battery, domestic violence, child abuse and other forms of family violence will be in effect, but with consideration given to mitigating or aggravating circumstances.
“The policy is comprehensive. It is strong. It is tough. And it better for everyone associated with the NFL,” Goodell said.
The players’ union has sought negotiations with the NFL on any revamping of the policy, and said Tuesday it would “reserve the right to take any and all actions” should the owners act unilaterally. The union could consider Wednesday’s vote by the owners as a violation of the collective bargaining agreement reached in 2011, giving the union cause to file a grievance.
Among the union’s options is pursuing an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board. The players could argue this policy is a change in terms and conditions of employment; the National Labor Relations Act says such changes in unionized situations are subject to collective bargaining.
“We expected today’s vote by the NFL owners from before Thanksgiving,” NFL Players Association spokesman George Atallah said on Twitter. “Our union has not seen their new policy.”
That new policy will include a conduct committee made up of several team owners that will review the policy at least annually and recommend appropriate changes. That committee will seek advice from outside experts, the NFL said.