Fresh off his first season as NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell has wielded the full force of his power for the first time, enacting an new stricter NFL Personal Conduct Policy. The aim of the new policy is to crack down on the increasing number of off-the-field problems encountered by NFL players. As many as 40 players were arrested during the 2006, facing charges from spousal abuse to possession of a concealed weapon to burglary.
Through the updated program NFL players will attend mandatory briefings given by law enforcement representatives, covering weapons, drugs, drinking and driving, and domestic disputes. The NFL has also expanded it's mandatory rookie orientation programs, aimed at helping first year players successful adjust to the league through educating players on personal finance, media, family issues, and life after football.
Each club will also make available more counseling and treatment programs for those that violate league policy.
However, the largest change comes in the carrying out of discipline for those that violate the policy. The league holds the ability to fine or suspend a player, even if his violation is not criminal in nature. They vow longer suspensions and bigger fines, and aggressively dealing with repeat offenders, reiterating transgressions need not result in a criminal conviction.
NFL clubs will also be subject to league disciple for the violations of it's club employee's. The Cincinnati Bengals have seen 9 of their players arrested since January 2006.
While the policy appears to be widely accepted, with both the support of the owners and NFL Players Association, there is still some underlying concern about the amount of power it affords the league. With no conviction needed for assessing fines or suspensions, it comes down to the league's determination on which conduct violates it's higher standard.
To see the dangers of such a position, we need to look no further than today's very own sports section.
Last year after allegations of rape surfaced against several players of Duke's Lacrosse team, the season was canceled and the players suspended. Today prosecutors dropped all remaining charges, after DNA samples exonerated the young men, and a significant change in the accuser's account.