Could NFL's position on personal conduct policy impact Bucs' Aqib Talib?
There was a range of topics covered in a news conference following the owners' approval of a proposed collective bargaining agreement in Atlanta this evening.
But one that should be of particular interest to Bucs fans is a response to a question about the status of the league's personal conduct policy and commissioner Roger Goodell's ability to administer discipline because of its potential impact on Bucs cornerback Aqib Talib.
NFL attorney Jeff Pash, when asked, suggested nothing had changed and that Goodell's extensive authority on disciplinary matters has not been reduced.
"Violations of law, that’s covered by the personal conduct policy,’’ Pash said. “We believe that policy remains in effect.’’
Talib's conduct is at issue because he allegedly participated in a shooting incident in Garland, Texas in March. Authorities there have charged him with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon -- a charge punishable by up to 20 years in prison -- but his case is not scheduled to go to trial until after the upcoming season.
Goodell has a well-established history of issuing punishment even before cases have been adjudicated, but this situation is complicated for a couple of reasons. For one, Talib's alleged violation occurred during the lockout when player contracts weren't technically valid. Second, Goodell's wide latitude was a subject of debate during negotiations and it's unclear whether he would take the controversial step of suspending a player like Talib under the circumstances, particularly because there's a chance of a legal challenge.
But, if tonight's comments are any indication, it sure sounds like the league is reserving its right to act. And that's something that could potentially affect Talib, one of the Bucs' best players.