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The NFL Lockout And The League’s Personal Conduct Policy

Sean Gardner, Getty Images

Well, after over 5 months, it looks like the NFL lockout is finally coming to an end.  There will be plenty to do over the next few weeks like signing free agents and rookies as well as figuring out which players will be starters.

But there’s also one other small thing NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell must deal with.  What should he do about all of those players that were arrested during the lockout?

The answer is nothing. 

The NFL has no right to punish players that violated the league’s personal conduct policy during the lockout.  That’s right, Goodell shouldn’t flex his commish muscles here because he wasn’t the commissioner during the lockout.

Under the lockout, the NFL players aren’t employees of the league.  Remember, the NFL ceased all business once the lockout started.  That meant no signings, no paychecks, no practices and no personal conduct policy. Period.  They can’t start enforcing rules while there is no league.

I know it doesn’t look good for the league when Hines Ward gets busted for a DUI, Bengals running back Cedric Benson gets arrested on an assault charge or Pac Man Jones gets arrested for the 15th time. Or when Buccaneers cornerback Aqib Talib fires a gun at his sister’s boyfriend or Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt being arrested on more than one occasion for resisting arrest, drug possession and driving on a suspended license.  You get the idea. But the league isn’t a league anymore. Those rules are out the window.

DeKalb County Sheriff's Office via Getty Images

All of the NFL players are unemployed right now.  How can you get punished by your employer when you’re not working for them? That’s not something that will hold any weight in a courtroom since the NFL doesn’t have any jurisdiction.  If NFL players aren’t getting paid, then they’re not obligated to follow their contracts.  The NFL won’t let these guys have health benefits so why should they have to satisfy their employment obligations?

It’s kind of like fining players that are late to team meetings that don’t exist.  When the league doesn’t exist, the players don’t exist.

If the NFL wanted to enforce this policy, they shouldn’t have locked the players out.

The league itself is suffering from a black eye due to the lockout.  The players were the ones that got locked out. The league looks bad.  

The NFL needs to worry about their own image.  The NFL not conducting business looks far worse than Pac Man Jones getting into a bar scuffle. That’s what people are focusing on. The NFL looks way worse than Pac Man Jones or Hines Ward getting into trouble.

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