Goodell, NFLPA Leaders Meet To Discuss Improving League's Workplace Environment
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith yesterday met to "discuss the league's workplace environment," including the role of coaches in "setting standards of behavior and helping every member of a team to understand and be accountable for living up to those standards," according to Barry Wilner of the AP. On hand for the meeting were NFL Exec VP/Football Operations Troy Vincent, Packers President & CEO Mark Murphy, Giants President & CEO John Mara, Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome, Panthers coach Ron Rivera, Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli and several league execs. Also involved yesterday were new NFLPA President Eric Winston and "several other" union execs and players. NFLPA Assistant Exec Dir of External Affairs George Atallah said, "The discussions between owners and players about a professional workplace were positive" (AP, 4/8). NFL Network's Ian Rapoport cited sources as saying that the "coaches, general managers and players are actually the ones who led the meeting," not Goodell and Smith. Rivera, Newsome, Winston and NFLPA Exec Committee member and Cardinals LB Lorenzo Alexander were "really the ones going back-and-forth, hitting on these issues including what role should the coaches play in improving this atmosphere and how can everyone be held accountable." While the Jonathan Martin/Richie Incognito bullying scandal may have been the impetus for the meeting, Rapoport noted with Michael Sam getting ready to "enter the NFL as the first openly gay player, improving the locker room is certainly something that is a focus" ("NFL Total Access," NFL Network, 4/8).
RESPECT YOURSELF: In Pittsburgh, Alan Robinson writes Goodell is "concerned enough about restoring respect to the game ... that he met with 40 players from nine teams in the last three months." Goodell and Smith yesterday discussed the "stricter enforcement of taunting and on-field policy rules" following a '13 season in which "34 taunting penalties were called," up from nine in '12 (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 4/9). ESPN's Bill Polian said, "If the league is going to take steps to ban certain types of behavior, sanction certain type of behavior, they need the buy-in of the union to it. This seems to be headed in the right direction" ("NFL Insiders," ESPN, 4/8).