NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is to meet Wednesday with owners in New York to discuss possible changes to the personal conduct policy (Elaine Thompson/AP Photo)
The NFL considering establishing an independent panel of outside experts that would make decisions on whether to place players and other employees on paid leave following an arrest but before their legal cases are resolved, according to a memo sent Monday from Commissioner Roger Goodell to teams in advance of an owners' meeting Wednesday in New York.
"What is the process for placing someone on paid leave status?" Goodell wrote in the memo, obtained by The Washington Post, which provides a series of questions and topics related to the NFL's personal conduct policy. "Should these decisions be made by a third party, or a panel of outsiders, or should they be made by the commissioner?"
A copy of the memo was obtained by The Washington Post.
Goodell wrote in the memo that Wednesday's discussion among the owners will include consideration of Goodell's future role in the disciplinary process. The memo leaves open the possibility of the league taking further steps to hold teams accountable for misconduct by players and other employees, and raises the issue of whether the NFL should announce a new personal conduct policy for non-player personnel before it announces its new conduct policy for players.
Goodell previously announced plans to rework the personal conduct policy, with input from the NFL Players Association and outside experts, in the aftermath of the recent highly publicized legal troubles of players Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Greg Hardy and others.
One particularly problematic issue for the sport's leaders in reworking the conduct policy is how to deal with players and other employees following an arrest but prior to the completion of the legal process. The league and teams must weigh an accused player's rights to due process and presumption of innocence against public sentiment and pressure for the NFL and franchises to act sooner rather than later in some cases.
Peterson, a standout running back for the Minnesota Vikings, and Hardy, a defensive end for the Carolina Panthers, recently agreed to be placed on the previously obscure exempt-commissioner's permission list while their legal cases play out. They are being paid but are not playing while on that list.
"Is it appropriate to remove someone from the workplace prior to an adjudication?" Goodell wrote in Monday's memo. "If so, when? In particular, should we establish a practice of 'leave with pay,' under which an employee charged with prohibited conduct is put on paid leave status until the charge has been resolved? And what should the parameters of such a 'leave with pay' status be — should the employee have access to the club facility; should counseling and other interventions be required; should the leave be limited to a certain period of time?"