Monday, 10 Dec 2018

Some NFL Owners Want to Review How the League Conducts Investigations

Some NFL owners would like to review how the league investigates criminal allegations made against players, ensuring that the league's investigative methods are reviewed, and possibly considering such investigations.

According to several people aware of their reflections, these homeowners worry about the controversy sparked by the investigation on Kareem Hunt, the halfback published by the Kansas City Chiefs last week.

"This is certainly an issue that deserves to be debated," said one of these people knowing the point of view of their owners, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. "Is there a way to do that better? If no, should the NFL even be in the investigation business? "

Several people close to the situation described the number of homeowners with such relatively low but growing concerns. The owners would support Commissioner Roger Goodell of the NFL, and his efforts to address the problem of domestic violence committed by players and other employees of the league. Owners' concerns are focused on the league's investigation procedures rather than on Goodell, according to those who are aware of the situation.

A senior official from one of the NFL teams said that he did not think that there were a large number of homeowners concerned about major issues, but acknowledged that he there were probably "few", perhaps led by Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys, who expressed his dissatisfaction. with the Cowboys League investigation Ezekiel Elliott. This official said that he "had not heard a lot of people talk about it" and did not think that there was a point on the agenda of this topic when the Regular meeting of NFL owners scheduled next Wednesday in Dallas.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has already expressed concerns about the NFL's investigation procedures. (AP Photo / Ron Jenkins)

The Cowboys refused to make Jones available for an interview this week, saying he had no other comments aside from the remarks he'd made during an interview on the radio at the beginning of the week. In this interview, Jones stated that he "was watching very closely" about the Hunt case and that he "was very interested in how it would unfold."

Jones also said, "This is a very difficult area for our purpose …. Everyone has a zero tolerance for domestic violence. "

Last December, at a Dallas owners' meeting, Jones said there was a need to reform the NFL disciplinary and investigative procedures.

"I would not be precise," said Jones then. "But we all know that we have had problems with our discipline, our investigations. We all know that these are there. Jones is not satisfied with the league's investigation of Elliott, who served a six-game suspension without pay last season imposed by the NFL under his personal driving policy. The NFL Players' Association has challenged Elliott's suspension in federal court and has successfully delayed its implementation. But the NFL triumphed on appeal and imposed the suspension in its entirety, the last league victory in the courtroom that reinforced Goodell's authority in the players' discipline.

Nevertheless, the series of controversies that have resulted from Goodell's disciplinary decisions, repeated NFLPA protests, and extensive review of the league's investigations seem to have made some homeowners tired.

The NFL's 2018 season had been marked by little turbulence, a captivating field game and a heightened television audience until its recent uproar. Hunt was placed on the NFL-exempt list and released by the Chiefs last week after the footage obtained by TMZ showed him hustling a woman in a Feb. Cleveland. That was a few days after the Washington Redskins' decision to claim linebacker Reuben Foster after he was released by the San Francisco 49ers after being arrested in Tampa for domestic violence.

The league and the players' union have already discussed the possibility of reorganizing the system of sports discipline in this sport and are likely to come back on the subject when negotiating their next collective agreement. The current CBA covers the 2020 season.

"It's something that I'm sure will be addressed in the next collective agreement," Goodell said at the homeowners meeting last December. "But we have always been willing to consider that."

It is unclear if the homeowner group with current concerns will be able to prompt the league and other homeowners to make changes before that date. We do not even know if these owners can spark a serious conversation on the subject at next week's meeting.

In the Hunt case, the league tried unsuccessfully to get the video and interview women involved in the February incident, said a person familiar with the NFL investigation. The league was also criticized for not having questioned Hunt about the incident. The leaders interrogated him and said he released him because the video showed that Hunt had not revealed the truth about what had happened.

Foster is on paid leave on the Commissioner's Exempt List and he and Hunt risk being suspended without pay by the NFL under the Personal Conduct Policy. Hunt has not been charged with a crime.

League officials have publicly acknowledged the obstacles the NFL faces as an employer without subpoena power in conducting such investigations. Someone familiar with the internal workings of the league said last week that those involved in the formulation of the revised policy were aware of these limitations and potential difficulties from the start and had been warned that the NFL needed to engage fully in his approach.

But the NFL has stopped using certain tactics, such as paying to get surveillance videos. It is unclear whether homeowners who are currently fearful of league investigations would not prefer the NFL to pay for such videos in order to avoid the negative reactions that accompanied their subsequent release to the public.


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