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NFLPA calls for changes to personal-conduct policy in proposal to NFL

NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith at M&T Bank Stadium in September.
NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith at M&T Bank Stadium in September. (Larry French / Getty Images)

As the NFL continues to work on overhauling its oft-criticized personal-conduct policy, the NFL Players Association has offered suggestions regarding discipline.

The proposal divides punishments and would be a major departure from how NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has previously handled player disciplinary issues.

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When it comes to felony charges of domestic violence, sexual assault, inflicting bodily harm to another person or aggravating circumstances such as hitting a child or striking a pregnant woman, the NFLPA is proposing no punishment based on just an arrest or pending charges.

The players union is proposing that discipline only be meted out once the matter is adjudicated, or the NFL and the NFLPA could reach an agreement to allow the player to take a paid voluntary leave of absence. Under that scenario, any games missed by the player would qualify as time served under the proposal.

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The NFLPA also proposed that no punishment be dispensed by the commissioner or the team, including termination of contract, until the court makes a decision in the case.

The NFLPA is also seeking a neutral third-party arbitrator for any appeal of player discipline.

Here's the full proposal, a copy of which was obtained by The Baltimore Sun:

NFLPA Proposal Regarding Commissioner Discipline

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Violent Crimes For Violent Crimes (defined as felonies where the charging document, indictment, information or arraignment alleges both (i) domestic violence, sexual assault ,assault and battery, or actual physical force or bodily harm to another person; and (ii) "Aggravating Circumstances", defined as the presence or use of a weapon, strangulation or suffocation, repeated striking or other acts resulting in significant injury, and/or when such acts are committed against a pregnant woman or in the presence of a child), the following shall apply: Commissioner and club may not take any action (discipline or otherwise, including club contract termination) after just an arrest.

Upon the filing of felony charges and/or an indictment, information or an arraignment alleging a Violent Crime: Player and Club may agree on a voluntary basis to leave with pay pending final disposition of the matter.

In the absence of player agreement, player may be placed on leave with pay by the
Commissioner, but only with the consent of the NFLPA.

No discipline may be taken by Commissioner (Article 46) while charges are pending.

No discipline may be taken by club for conduct detrimental while charges are pending.

Discipline imposed, if any, only after final disposition of the matter (e.g., player is convicted of or otherwise admits to a violation of law, including within the context of a diversionary program, deferred adjudication, disposition of supervision, or similar arrangement).

Any prior deactivation with pay must be taken into account as time served if player is later subject to discipline.

All other Crimes Commissioner and club may not take any action with respect to the alleged crimes until final disposition of the matter (discipline or otherwise, including club contract termination).

Mandatory Counseling

Upon the filing of charges and/or an indictment, information or an arraignment the Commissioner may ask the involved player to meet with a psychiatrist of the player's choosing for clinical evaluation (this will preserve doctor/patient privilege).

Any player who is convicted of or otherwise admits to a violation of law including actual or
threatened violence (including within the context of a diversionary program, deferred adjudication, disposition of supervision, or similar arrangement) shall be subject to a mandatory clinical evaluation by a neutral expert (s) as chosen by the NFL and the NFLPA (unless evaluation cannot be done practicably in a state that will clearly protect privilege of patient communications during evaluation). Upon completion of such evaluation, if deemed necessary by such expert, player shall undergo a counseling program that has been jointly developed by the NFL and the NFLPA.

Investigations Involving Player Crimes

An NFLPA attorney must be present during all interviews conducted during an investigation
into a matter involving potential discipline of a player with respect to an alleged
crime(including but not just any interviews of the player).

Such interviews will be recorded and transcribed.

Player decision not to be interviewed based on 5th Amendment concerns shall not be held against the player.

No public statements by the NFL or club relating to discipline or potential discipline until final
resolution of discipline.

If an "independent investigation" involving potential player discipline relating to an alleged crime is conducted, the NFLPA and the player shall have the right to review the results of such investigation, including the supporting documents and witness statements, prior to any
"independent investigation" report being issued.

Such information shall also be produced by the NFL in connection with any neutral arbitration appeal described below.

Neutral Arbitration

All appeals of Commissioner Discipline shall be appealed and heard pursuant to the provisions
of Article 43 (Non-Injury Grievance).

Such appeals of Commissioner Discipline shall be heard as an Expedited Appeal under Article 43 in the same manner as any grievance involving the suspension of a player by a club, except that the parties shall select and appoint an additional neutral arbitrator solely for the
purpose of hearing all of these such appeals.

The discovery provisions or Article 43 relating to the submission of documents shall apply, requiring the parties to exchange copies of all reports, records or other documents relevant to t
he dispute (including any such documents in the possession of the League, club, player or
NFLPA).

However, for these cases, such documents must be produced on or before four (4) days
before the hearing.

The parties may agree upon, or the arbitrator for good cause may order, an extension of the schedule.

Just cause standard applies to all of these appeals. The arbitrator shall have the power to compel testimony from any League, club, player or NFLPA witness.

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