PALM BEACH, Fla.—NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday he plans to consult with the players’ union by the end of the week about disciplinary measures for players involved in the New Orleans Saints’ bounty program.
“I hope that they will be in position to give me a recommendation at that point in time that I can consider,” Goodell said. Goodell has not provided a timetable for player penalties in the bounty scandal.
“I have been pretty clear that I hold coaches and executives to a higher standard,” Goodell said Wednesday at a news conference after the annual league meeting ended. “It is an important element of what the NFL is all about.
“It is clear from the information, though, that the players enthusiastically embraced this and pushed this. That is troubling to me. I have said that before. We have to look into who is involved, how much were they involved and what influence they had. And I will have to do the best I can to make a judgment on how that should be handled from a discipline standpoint,” Goodell said.
Goodell has suspended Saints Coach Sean Payton for a full season, General Manager Mickey Loomis for a half-season, assistant head coach Joe Vitt for six games and former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams indefinitely. The Saints were fined $500,000 and were stripped of a pair of second-round draft choices.
Goodell said he recognizes that Saints fans are upset about the severe penalties. “I clearly understand that frustration,” Goodell said. “But everyone has to understand that there are 32 teams and everybody is going to have to operate by the same rules.”
Goodell also said Wednesday he will communicate with DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association, this week about the two sides’ negotiations on blood-testing for human growth hormone. The league hopes to begin testing players by next season, after disagreements with the union kept the program on hold all of last season.
The union wants a study conducted to determine the proper threshold for a positive HGH test in an athlete the size of an NFL player. “If the population study was the only thing in the way from us reaching an agreement, we would have an agreement,” Goodell said.
According to Goodell, the league and the owners are likely to wait until late this year or early next year before reconsidering an 18-game season. The league scrapped a proposal to lengthen the regular season to 18 games per team during last year’s labor negotiations. Players and union officials continue to oppose the idea.
Goodell said the NFL first will study the effects of new rules that reduced offseason workouts and decrease hitting during practices.
The league and union continue to discuss the possibility of having an independent neurologist on the sideline at games to aid in concussion evaluations. So far, Goodell said, the two sides have not concluded that such an arrangement would improve the response to player concussions.
“That’s our decision to this point [but] we are continuing to discuss that,” Goodell said.
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