Tough Love

New commissioner Roger Goodell intends to unveil a proposal at the owners meetings, which get underway Tuesday in Arizona, that will lay out a much stricter player conduct policy that could lead to repeat offenders like Pac Man Jones being subjected to an automatic one-year suspension for off-field problems.

The NFL owners meetings get underway Tuesday and one of the hot-button topics is expected to be a new get-tough policy by Commissioner Roger Goodell. The NFL has taken a black eye in the media with a slew of players being involved in incidents off the field. The Bengals have become the bad boys of the NFL, with a dozen players having been arrested on various charges. Titans cornerback Pac Man Jones has become the poster boy for such problems, having been involved in no less than 10 off-field incidents – the most recent being a brawl at a Las Vegas strip club that started with Pac Man "raining money" like a gangsta rap star and then wanting his money back. The resulting altercation led to three people being shot and one being permanently paralyzed from the chest down.

This is not the image the NFL wants to portray and Goodell is serious about having a conduct policy in place. Ironically, one of the first teams to impose a conduct policy with contracts were the Bengals, who would include language in contracts that could recoup signing bonus money if a player had a serious off-field altercation.

As it currently stands, the worst a team can do to a player is suspend him for four games for an off-field incident and those instances are rare. Goodell doesn't need a vote of owners to make changes to the policy and there is talk that he may seek up to a one-year suspension for players who are the cause of trouble.

While there likely will be opposition from some players, Goodell made it clear when he made the rounds to NFL teams and spoke at the Super Bowl that criminal conduct among players would not be tolerated and that players representing the league will be subject to suspension if they embarrass the league with their own personal conduct.

Surprisingly, the players association and long-time head Gene Upshaw seem to be in favor of the policy, as are a majority of the players themselves. It's been said that one or two bad apples can make the whole bunch look bad. If Goodell gets his way, those players will be ferreted out and the punishment will be quick and severe.

* Ian Scott, who interviewed with the Vikings last week, is negotiating a potential deal with the Falcons this weekend.
* Reports out of Florida say that Daunte Culpepper will be ready for the team's first minicamp in April.
* The league may not be smiling after seeing a United Way spoof performed by Peyton Manning last night on "Saturday Night Live." Following his monologue, Manning played off on the image of NFL players as goons and hooligans. In the United Way spot, he starts off by buzzing little kids with passes and berating them for dropping them. He then tries to break into a Cadillac Escalade, claiming it's his until the police show up … then he takes of running. Finally, he drinks beer with the kids saying he will "kill a snitch" if they tell. Funny? Yes. Is the NFL brass likely laughing? No.

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