The NFL has told the NFL Players Association that it is willing to revise commissioner Roger Goodell's role in determining player discipline, according to The Washington Post.
The league said it is willing to have someone other than Goodell handle rulings on player discipline, but appeals would still be heard by Goodell or someone appointed by him.
"We are prepared, as we have previously advised, to discuss modifying Article 46 [of the sport’s collective bargaining agreement] to provide that the initial disciplinary decision would be made by someone other than the Commissioner or his designee," Jeff Pash, the league’s chief counsel, wrote in a letter Sunday to the NFLPA. "We would be prepared to consult with the NFLPA on the identity of such a disciplinary officer. Any appeal would continue to be to the Commissioner or his designee, as currently provided for in Article 46."
As it currently stands, Goodell or someone appointed by him is in charge of both determining player discipline and hearing appeals. Goodell and the NFL have been criticized for their handling of cases involving former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.
The NFL recently announced the Goodell will not hear Peterson's appeal of his season-long suspension, and rather Goodell appointed former league executive vice president for labor relations Harold Henderson to hear it. The players' union responded by saying, "A long-time NFL Executive and current legal consultant cannot, by definition, be a neutral arbitrator."
Last month, the NFLPA reportedly sent a proposal to the NFL, which is currently reworking its personal conduct policy, requesting to help craft a policy in which a player's punishment is more transparent and consistent.
In his letter, Pash said the union is proposing that players can be placed on paid leave pending the outcome of a criminal case only with the player's consent.
Representatives of the league and union met last week, according to the Post, and Pash said he was "disappointed that the NFLPA declined to discuss any aspect of its proposal or our response" at that meeting.
- Molly Geary