In a letter sent to the NFL Players Association on Sunday, NFL executive Jeff Pash stated that the league is willing to let someone other than Commissioner Roger Goodell make rulings on player discipline, according to The Washington Post. However, the NFL remains adamant that any appeals of such a ruling would continue to be decided by the commissioner or someone designated by him.
"We are prepared, as we have previously advised, to discuss modifying Article 46 [of the collective bargaining agreement] to provide that the initial disciplinary decision would be made by someone other than the Commissioner or his designee," writes Pash, the league's chief legal counsel. "We would be prepared to consult with the NFLPA on the identity of such a disciplinary officer. Any appeal would continue to be to the Commissioner or his designee, as currently provided for in Article 46."
The letter, which comes as the league and its union continue to negotiate a new player conduct policy in the wake of the Ray Rice scandal, was sent as a follow-up to a meeting last week. The union contends that all appeals should be heard by a neutral arbitrator, while the NFL believes, as expressed by Pash in the letter, that doing so would "potentially [weaken] the conduct policy."
Pash also expressed concern in the union's reported position that players should only be disciplined if convicted of a crime.
"Although the proposal is vague on this point, during our meeting in Washington, you and your colleagues (including the two members of the union's commission who attended the meeting) appeared to take the position that discipline could only be imposed if a player were convicted of a criminal offense," Pash wrote. "As you know, that is not how the policy has been applied, as the legal considerations and standards applicable to a criminal conviction are quite distinct from those that apply to a violation of a workplace policy. We do not agree that the Commissioner's disciplinary authority should be limited to cases involving a criminal conviction."