Snap Judgments (cont.)
Posted: Wednesday March 28, 2007 5:56PM; Updated: Wednesday March 28, 2007 7:37PM
One NFL team owner I know told me that he has it on good authority that Adam "Pacman'' Jones only leaves his house these day accompanied by an off-duty police officer whom he employs as a bodyguard. "He fears for his life at this point,'' the owner said. "He won't even leave his house without that protection. And it wasn't a club-imposed idea. He feels he has become a target for trouble of sorts.''
While it was surprising to many that commissioner Roger Goodell didn't unveil the NFL's new tougher player conduct policy here this week, it probably shouldn't have been given the level of complication involved in crafting such a document.
As one AFC general manager told me Wednesday: "There's great consensus support for a tougher policy, but the devil is in the details with this sort of thing. Everything has to be codified. What's the league's punishment for a Class A felony? What is it for a lesser crime? It has to all be sorted out, and put on paper.''
Goodell reiterated Wednesday in his wrap-up news conference that he would like to have the new conduct policy in place before the April 28-29 draft, but added that he expects the guidelines to evolve and change over the course of the next year.
Goodell said he will meet again next week with NFL Players Association executive director Gene Upshaw, as the two continue to shape the details of the stricter disciplinary schedule. One part of the process still being worked on is that several teams want the policy to allow them a good deal of flexibility in determining disciplinary measures, rather than having league-wide uniformity.
"Gene wants to make sure there's consistency,'' Goodell said. "The union wants to make sure one club isn't being more aggressive than other clubs, or even within the club, where you treat that player differently than that player. I like the idea that clubs will take great control, but when you do that, you sometimes lose consistency.''
In confirming that he'll conduct hearings with Pacman Jones and Bengals receiver Chris Henry on Tuesday at the league's New York office, Goodell said it's his hope to decide on potential penalties for the two repeat offenders no more than 10 days after those meetings.
Among league observers and club officials, there is still the expectation that Jones will receive a suspension of anywhere from eight games to the entire 2007 season. But Goodell is resisting the notion that suspensions for Jones and Henry will be seen as strong messages to the rest of the league players.
"We're not trying to send a signal here,'' Goodell said. "We're not trying to make an example out of anyone. We're trying to protect the integrity of the NFL.''
But in reality, hitting Jones and Henry with unprecedented suspensions for their off-field conduct issues will be a step toward accomplishing both.
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