Goodell Says Goodbye to Offenders

Roger Goodell is new to the job of commissioner, but made an early stamp on his job like Mountain Landis did in Major Baseball following the Black Sox scandal -- implementing a new conduct policy and sending two players packing immediately.

For some time it had been speculated that the NFL would impose a much stiffer personal conduct policy. The hammer came down Tuesday, as Pacman Jones and Chris Henry were the first casualties. Jones, a troubled cornerback for the Titans who has a long list of offenses of being involved in criminal investigations, was suspended for a full year, while Henry, who has been arrested 10 times since joining the league, was suspended eight games.

In the four-page policy, the NFL sets out that it can apply discipline to any "persons associated with the NFL" adding they "are required to avoid conduct dretrimental to the integrity and public confidence in the National Football League."

The policy statement goes on to say that "illegal or irresponsible conduct does more than simply tarnish the offender. It puts innocent people at risk, sullies the reputation of others involved in the game and undermines public respect and support for the NFL."

The new policy highlights anything remotely concerned with gun possession, effectively saying if any player is caught with a firearm illegally, he will be subject to suspension. There was also language to say the NFL can conduct its own investigation separate from law enforcement and, like the cops, can conduct interviews and gather information.

It appears that some of the conduct issues go beyond the realm of being arrested and/or convicted, saying that NFL employees will have a higher standard of socially responsible conduct.

Will the new policy make a difference? We'll have to wait and see. But, after the black eye the NFL took when USA Today ran photos of 50 players arrested since 2006, it might be time for such a change.

* While the Vikings aren't dropping any names (why change now?), about 25 players are expected to be at Winter Park today for a pre-draft visit. Among the names that have been confirmed are DE Gaines Adams, WR Robert Meacham, guard Arron Sears and tight end Matt Spaeth.
* The 2007 NFL schedule will be released at noon today.

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