Goodell Hopes For Disciplinary Decisions In A Few Weeks


Thursday, March 29th 2007, 8:10 am
By: News On 6


PHOENIX (AP) _ Next week, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will hold hearings with Tennessee cornerback Adam ``Pacman'' Jones and Cincinnati receiver Chris Henry. Within 10 days of those meetings, Goodell hopes to have disciplined them.

The entire league will be watching.

Goodell wants to enforce a stricter player conduct policy and is formulating his plan. After the owners meetings concluded Wednesday, he said he'd gotten ``good input'' from the various teams. He already had the support of the players association and its chief, Gene Upshaw.

Whether Goodell hands down suspensions to the players and fines _ or even the loss of draft picks _ to the teams is purely speculative. But he's promised to act as swiftly as possible, and he's vowed to clean up the league's image woes.

``I won't lump all of these incidents into a bowl and deal with it,'' Goodell said. ``I'm not trying to send a signal here and make examples of people. We'll do what we need to protect the integrity of the NFL. That's our objective.''

And it's the right objective, according to Super Bowl champion Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy.

``I'm for whatever steps would help us address this problem better,'' Dungy said. ``We have a great game, and we can't let it erode.''

So is Titans coach Jeff Fisher, who stands to lose Jones for quite awhile.

``We've very much in tune with what he does,'' Fisher said of Goodell, who has been on the job less than seven months. ``He has a plan and is determined, as we all are, to minimize if not eliminate this.''

Jones has talked to police in 10 separate incidents since being drafted in April 2005 and has been arrested five times. On Monday, Las Vegas police recommended prosecutors file a felony charge of coercion and misdemeanor charges of battery and threat against Jones, stemming from a Feb. 19 strip club fight and shooting.

Henry is among nine Bengals players arrested in less than a year. He had four arrests in 14 months, including marijuana possession, a weapon charge and a drunken-driving count that resulted in a guilty plea to reckless operation of a vehicle.

Then there is Chicago defensive tackle Tank Johnson, who is in jail now for violating probation.

So let the hearings begin.

``These are part of the hearings I've had with a player or coach facing discipline decisions,'' Goodell said. ``It's to get their perspective, look them in the eye and get them thinking. They are clearly (designed) to give me better info and more facts. I do it frequently.''

Jones' attorney, Manny Arora of Atlanta, said they hope the commissioner will wait until the Las Vegas case is resolved before taking action.

If not, Jones is prepared to fight it legally, Arora said, especially if Jones were to receive a one-year suspension.

``It's going to end up being a big fight. There'll be injunctions,'' Arora said. ``The NFL will fight this and that. We're going to draw it out through the court, and the attention's going to go through the roof.''

The full revised player-conduct policy is expected to be in place before the April 28-29 draft.

``I suspect the policy will go through changes over time, and we'll need to continue to evaluate it,'' Goodell said. ``How we deal with these players will speak volumes.''

Goodell's first meetings as commissioner saw the approval of making permanent instant replay as an officiating tool; approval of a second interviewing window for assistant coaches on Super Bowl teams who are in the running for other head coaching jobs; and the tabling of a change in overtime.

The competition committee proposed moving the kickoff for overtime from the 30-yard line to the 35 after statistics showed the winner of the coin toss won OT games 64 percent of the time. Sensing it wouldn't pass, the proposal was tabled and will be further investigated.

Dungy said he didn't favor changing the rules for overtime. Competition committee co-chairman Rich McKay said there is some sentiment for a two-possession rule _ each team being guaranteed getting the ball once _ but no interest in the college system or in continuing the game from where it ended in regulation.

``The membership reflected something I do believe in strongly,'' Goodell said. ``The focus needs to be on winning the game in regulation.''

Also Wednesday, the owners:

_ approved a 5-yard penalty for players spiking the ball or throwing it up in the air on the field after a play;

_ made permanent the down-by-contact element of video replay reviews, and permanently lowered the time referees review replays to 60 seconds;

_ deleted the provision in the rules where quarterbacks can ask the referee to reset the play clock because of crowd noise;

_ defeated expanding the game-day roster from 45 players and a third quarterback to 47 and a third QB;

_ made a pass that unintentionally hits an offensive lineman no longer a penalty;

_ modified roughing-the-passer so that a defender engaged with a quarterback who simply extends his arms and shoves the passer to the ground is not penalized;

_ eliminated a player scoring a touchdown without the ball going over the pylon at the goal line in the corner of the end zone.