KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. — With the criminal case against New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft perhaps on the verge of unraveling, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell declined to say Wednesday whether the league intends to punish Kraft under its personal conduct policy.
Kraft attended the meeting but was not available to speak to reporters. He continues to go about his football-related business while facing misdemeanor charges in Florida for solicitation of prostitution.
Kraft declined a plea deal, and his attorneys won a key victory in court when a judge excluded video evidence gathered by police at a day spa. But even if Kraft is not convicted of a crime, the conduct policy would empower Goodell to discipline him with a suspension or fine.
Goodell refused to offer a timeline for the league making a disciplinary ruling.
“There’s a proceeding going on,” Goodell said. “We’ll wait until that proceeding is concluded.”
NFL plans to interview Tyreek Hill
Goodell said the league intends to interview Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill when that is feasible. The Chiefs have barred Hill from participating in offseason activities amid an investigation by authorities in the Kansas City area into child abuse allegations involving Hill’s young son. Hill has denied wrongdoing through his representatives but could face potential discipline by the league under the personal conduct policy.
“There are court proceedings still going on involving the child protection service, and we will not interfere with that,” Goodell said. “The priority is this young child. We will obviously be cooperative of whatever the court wants there. We are prepared to go ahead and have an interview whenever we have the permission to do so. And then we’ll make a determination based on what information we have at that point in time. Again, I won’t speculate on where we’ll go. But we’ll certainly get all the information we possibly can as soon as possible.”
League considering marijuana use for pain management
Goodell was noncommittal about the possibility that NFL players could be permitted to use marijuana for pain management in the future.
The league and the NFL Players Association agreed to cooperate for the first time in studying marijuana as a pain-management tool for players. That research will come via a joint pain management committee established by the league and union.
“There are a lot of alternative pain medications and treatments,” Goodell said. “And those are the types of things that we want this committee to focus on, with medical experts and with medical science behind that. Of course they will look at one of those is what role medical marijuana can have in that. That’s something that will be part of those studies. But it is much broader than that.”
The NFL and NFLPA announced the formation of two new medical committees, including the pain management committee, this week.
“We have charged the committee with looking at any and all strategies for treating pain,” Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, said Wednesday. “So marijuana, cannabinoids, CBD — all those things will be on the list. But we’ve asked them to look at it, and we expect them to look at it from a very scientific and medical-driven angle, which is: What does the research show? What does the data show? What are the best treatment strategies?”
Marijuana remains on the NFL’s list of banned substances, and players can be suspended for testing positive for it.
“I think it’s really important that we go where the science takes us here, not based on personal anecdote or opinion,” Sills said. “But what is the medical science? Because we do the same thing for our other medical conditions, right? If you ask me as a physician what’s the most effective way to treat hypertension, I want to see the studies that show me the data around different medications and prescriptions. I’m much more interested in that data than I am the self-report of your Aunt Mary, who happened to use a certain home remedy. We want the data to drive us to where we need to be if we’re going to recommend something from a medical standpoint.”
Labor negotiations are underway
The NFL and NFLPA have had two formal negotiating sessions, Goodell said, about a potential new collective bargaining agreement. The current CBA expires following the 2020 season.
“I do hope it’s sooner rather than later,” Goodell said. “I think there’s great value to all parties, all most importantly our fans, that we get this issue resolved and move forward. But there are important issues to be addressed. And we’re doing that.”
Playoff times changed
The league changed the starting times of the Sunday games in the divisional playoff round to 3 and 6:30 p.m. Eastern time. The owners also modified their broadcasting rules, on a one-year trial basis, to attempt to ensure that three Sunday afternoon games are televised most weekends in as many markets as possible.
Draft sites announced
The league named Cleveland as the host city for the NFL draft in 2021 and Kansas City as host for 2023. There has been no site identified yet for the 2022 draft. Next year’s draft is to be held in Las Vegas.
Combine drills move to prime time
The NFL said it has committed to keeping its annual scouting combine in Indianapolis through 2021, with a series of one-year options after that. Drills will be televised in prime time beginning next year.
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