Monday Morning QB (cont.)
Posted: Monday March 26, 2007 9:09AM; Updated: Monday March 26, 2007 10:55AM
2. The discipline will be tougher on players, though it might not be the line-in-the-sand kind of policy that will say two convictions, for instance, will result in a year's suspension from the game.
3. There will be discipline for teams, as Goodell hinted at in February at the Super Bowl. It may take the form of fines, or of teams having their salary-cap number reduced relative to violations of their players. There's little doubt this will be the toughest sell here. The Bengals and Raiders are already upset over this tweaking of the policy, in part because the last collective bargaining agreement between players and owners made it tougher for teams to impose discipline on players. Right now, teams cannot recoup percentages of signing bonuses, for instance, if players are suspended for substance-abuse or personal-conduct violations. But those close to Goodell think teams like Cincinnati, which has taken chances on talented players with past convictions on their resume, will now have to think twice before signing risky players.
Don't look for the league to hand out any suspensions this week. Any player Goodell will punish under his new policy has to have a hearing before being disciplined. But the first two players expected to incur the wrath of the commissioner are Tennessee's Pacman Jones and Chicago's Tank Johnson. Jones has a rap sheet of 10 run-ins with the police since being drafted in the first round by Tennessee in 2005, including two arrests he never reported to the league, which violates a player's obligation to disclose arrests. Johnson was jailed two weeks ago in Chicago for violating probation on a 2005 weapons conviction. There's no telling what Goodell's decision on these two cases will be, but the over-under in the hallways here over the weekend was a year ban for Jones and eight games for Johnson.
Goodell went to Washington two weeks ago to meet with NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw, and the commissioner shouldn't have much trouble with the union over this. Upshaw has been rattling the same saber as Goodell for much of the last year, telling players in team visits last year, in essence: We've got a great game going here, and the only ones who can screw it up are you guys if you keep getting in trouble off the field.
So get ready for three days of headlines over this issue. Goodell is about to make his first statement as commissioner.
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