The last thing that those who support a comprehensive new personal conduct policy around the NFL wanted was a spat between the league and the players association over recent off-field issues.
But that appears to be case right now, especially regarding the league’s refusal to reinstate Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who seemed destined to come of the commissioner’s exempt list after his legal matters were settled earlier this month.
With a hearing set for Monday between Peterson and the NFL, it appears that the NFLPA is using his case to push back against the league as it relates to the personal conduct policy discussions the two sides have been having recently.
The NFLPA sent a memo to all players on Thursday, which pretty much put the league on blast (via Pro Football Talk).
This union is always disappointed with player misconduct, but from our conversations with our sponsors and licensees, it is clear that the current crisis of confidence is a direct result of the NFL’s mismanagement of those incidents,” the memo states. “The process for players under the personal conduct policy has to be transparent, fair and firm.
Instead, in the span of less than 60 days, we have witnessed panic and inconsistency by the NFL and Clubs on how players are treated. We have experienced a refusal by the NFL to honor an agreement for Adrian Peterson and an introduction of a new process for Adrian that is inconsistent with the existing policies already in place. If a full and fair hearing before a neutral arbitrator is good enough for Ray Rice, it should be good enough for every NFL player.
Player leadership will not accept imposed superficial changes to the adjudication process for the personal conduct policy that fail to address the fundamental deficiencies of due diligence and due process that led to the recent egregious public exposures of systemic failures.
We remain committed to discussing these issues with the League and the NFL owners 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 issues are widespread here. On one hand, the league views personal conduct as a subject that can be covered without collective bargaining. This puts too much power into the hands of a select few who have nothing to do with the players association itself. On the other hand, the NFLPA wants due process and a “neutral arbitrator” to be included in a new policy.
As has been the case since the NFL refused to reinstate Peterson immediately after his child abuse case concluded, the NFLPA continues to accuse the league of ignoring “due diligence and due process.”
If we expect anything to come to a head when the NFL meets with Peterson, that’s likely an unlikely scenario at this point. As the NFLPA has stated, this represents a systemic failure from the league, which is something that won’t simply be swept under the rug because of a decision about the reinstatement of one player.
Both sides need to come together here and realize that the credibility of the league itself is in jeopardy. Another string of incidents similar to what we have seen with Ray Rice and Peterson would further threaten to destroy the league’s legitimacy in the public eye.
Photo: CBS Sports