NFL probing use of independent panel to handle players in trouble

Roger Goodell
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, shown back in March, will meet with league owners Wednesday to address key issues.
(John Raoux / Associated Press)

In the wake of arguably the most tumultuous month in its history, the NFL is weighing whether to do more to investigate its problem players — as opposed to leaving that to law enforcement — and if whether a third party, and not Commissioner Roger Goodell, should decide when players who have been arrested should be put on paid leave.       

Those topics and others were covered in a memo distributed to the 32 teams from Goodell, a document obtained by The Times in advance of Wednesday’s annual fall owners meeting, this year held at a downtown Manhattan hotel.

In the memo, sent to clubs Monday, Goodell outlined the key issues to be discussed, posing them in the form of questions:

— When an allegation of misconduct is made, to what extent should the league or clubs independently review and investigate the matter? Or should we continue to rely on law enforcement to do so?


— Is it appropriate to remove someone from the workplace prior to an adjudication? If so, when? In particular, should we establish a practice of “leave with pay,” under which an employee charged with prohibited conduct is put on paid leave status until the charge has been resolved?  And what should the parameters of such a “leave with pay” status be — should the employee have access to the club facility; should counseling and other interventions be required; should the leave be limited to a certain period of time?

— What is the process for placing someone on paid leave status?  Should these decisions be made by a third party, or a panel of outsiders, or should they be made by the commissioner?

— What kind of support services should be available to victims and families, as well as to the accused?

— Are there opportunities for early intervention when someone has instances of misconduct before entering the league, for example, by requiring such an individual to have an evaluation, participate in counseling or other programs, etc?


— What should be the commissioner’s role in the disciplinary process?

— What level of accountability should be expected of clubs?  Is the current Salary Remittance Program sufficient, or should additional measures be considered?

— Should the commissioner announce changes to the policy for non-player employees in advance of doing so for players?