Commissioner Roger Goodell had acknowledged that under the previous policy, "our penalties didn’t fit the crimes."
Goodell will no longer be involved in initial disciplinary proceedings but will retain his role in regards to appeals. There will be a "more rigorous and transparent process for those initial disciplinary decisions."
Among the changes in the new policy:
Specific criteria for paid leave for an individual formally charged with a crime of violence, including domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse.
A baseline suspension of six games without pay for violations involving assault, battery, domestic violence, dating violence, child abuse, other forms of family violence, or sexual assault, with consideration given to possible mitigating or aggravating circumstances.
An expert group of outside advisors to review and evaluate potential violations and consult on other elements of the policy.
Under the new policy, the league will conduct independent investigations rather than exclusively using information developed through law enforcement. From memo obtained by ESPN's Outside The Lines:
The new Policy will embrace the use of independent investigations; we will no longer rely solely on information developed in law enforcement proceedings. While we will always respect and seek not to interfere with law enforcement, we recognize that the standards that apply in a workplace are substantially different from those that apply in the criminal justice system. We are confident that we can address issues within the NFL in a way that respects and supports law enforcement activity.
The NFLPA later released a statement responding to the approval of the policy:
Our union has not been offered the professional courtesy of seeing the NFL's new personal conduct policy before it hit the presses. Their unilateral decision and conduct today is the only thing that has been consistent over the past few months.
NFL general counsel Jeff Pash told NFL.com's Ian Rapoport, "We sent [the NFLPA] the policy. Numerous meetings with them. The union knows every element we’re talking about."
The league and Goodell have come under scrutiny since former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was initially suspended only two games for striking his then-fiancée in an Atlantic City Casino elevator in February.
- Chris Johnson