How NFL’s conduct policy applies to Cable case

The NFL made it clear back in August that it was investigating allegations that Raiders coach Tom Cable threatened and struck defensive assistant coach Randy Hanson at a training camp meeting, during which Hanson suffered a broken jaw. Here’s a look at how the alleged conduct could be a violation of the league’s personal conduct policy, which applies to “all persons associated with the NFL,” and obviously includes coaches and players.

The policy makes it clear how high the standard of conduct is, applying to “conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the National Football League.” Simply not being found not guilty of a crime — the Napa D.A. filed no charges against Cable after its investigation — is “not enough,” according to the policy.

The policy explicitly notes that league discipline may be imposed in circumstances such as “the use or threat of violence,” and “violent or threatening behavior among employees,” and conduct that “imposes inherent danger to the safety and well being” of another person. All of these apply to Hanson’s claims against Cable and form the grounds for both the Napa Valley police investigation and the NFL’s internal review.

The policy also specifically applies to domestic violence and partner abuse, charges that two women have made against Cable through the media (Cable has admitted to striking an ex-wife once 20 years ago). Both the Raiders and the NFL have said that they are investigating those matters as well.

And thus, in a case such as this, the policy states that “persons charged or otherwise appearing to have engaged in conduct prohibited under the policy will be required to undergo a formal clinical evaluation.” Based on the results of those tests, the person could be “encouraged or required” to undergo counseling or treatment. It also states that the evaluation and counseling are not considered discipline. However, “failure to comply with this portion of the Policy shall itself constitute a separate and independent basis for discipline.”

Discipline for violating this policy often results in fines or suspensions, and the commissioner has the right to decide any penalties, factoring in “the actual or threatened risk,” as well as any past history of misconduct. The affected person will have the right to appeal. The DA’s lengthy examination and subsequent rebuttal of some of Hanson’s claims damaged his case, according to league sources, and reduced the likelihood of Cable facing any substantial penalties for those allegations, all of which came before the domestic abuse allegations came to light.

As stated in the policy, a clinical evaluation is a standard procedure in the league’s investigation in Cable’s case, which will help inform any decisions the league will make.

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