Thursday, March 22, 2007
By Teresa Varley
When the NFL Owners Meetings begin next week one of the hot topics is going to be centered on personal conduct of the players.
"It will be brought up for sure," said the Steelers Dan Rooney, Sr., a strong supporter of it. "I think everybody is going to be saying we have to do something about it. The players think that way; everybody seems to think we should be doing something. People are stringent on that."
The question is what exactly should be done. Some leagues have adopted three strikes and you're out policy with their players. Rooney isn't convinced that is what the NFL needs to do and thinks it will take time to develop the right policy.
"You look at it and see what the offense was and what they did and you suspend the guy," said Rooney, noting suspension times could vary based on an offense. "We have to look at it and see what happens this year and then make a decision as to whether or not it is automatic."
Rooney feels it's important that whatever decision is made, that it is done on a league basis and that the teams are not the ones to make the decision on the players.
"You can't put it in the hands of the team," said Rooney. "If it's against your guy you aren't going to do anything. You can't do that. It has to be the league. The commissioner is good about this, having conversations with teams, and he would do that."
One factor that will be looked at is how the salary cap will be impacted if a player is suspended. Rooney can see both sides of the argument, where a team should have some wiggle room so they can sign another player. At the same time, he thinks if part of the policy is punishing a team for continued issues with player's behavior, then the salary cap might be a way to do it.
"One of the things we talked about is you penalize the team if this is a continuing thing," said Rooney. "Maybe that's how the team gets penalized. They lose their cap. In one regard people look at it and say you shouldn't take the team's cap away. But if you are going to penalize them, that's the penalty. They lose part of their cap."
The Steelers take a close look at players before they draft or sign them, trying to be sure that their roster is composed of quality players. But, even one player going against the personal conduct policy or finding themselves in trouble is too much for Rooney.
"One guy is too many," he said. "Every team has to look at themselves and say what it is. If you have a problem, you have to get with it. That's the way we have operated. If there is someone that has a problem we try to do what we feel is the right thing. We don't just let it slip."
There will be some rule changes that are recommended at the league meetings, but Rooney thinks the game should remain as is.
"There are no playing rules I want to see passed," said Rooney. "I think the game is great now. I don't think there is any use tinkering with it."
One thing Rooney would like to see change is the rule on interviewing head coaching candidates who are in the Super Bowl. Rooney believes that there should be a time period following the championship games that allows for interviews.
"You have to give a guy a break," said Rooney, who believes if a coach already had one interview, a second should be able to take place before the Super Bowl. "I think it's not fair to say these guys can't do it when you have the two weeks. There is some debate as to when you permit them to do it."