Article 46Commissioner Discipline
Section 1. League Discipline
Notwithstanding anything stated in Article 43;(a)
All disputes involving a fine or suspension imposed upon a player for conduct on the playing field (other than as described in Subsection (b) below) or involving action taken against a player by the Commissioner for conduct detrimental to the integrity of, or public confidence in, the game of professional football (other than as described in Subsection (e) below), will be processed exclusively as follows: the Commissioner will promptly send written notice of his action to the player, with a copy to the NFLPA. Within three (3) business days following such written notification, the player affected thereby, or the NFLPA with the player’s approval, may appeal in writing to the Commissioner.(b)
Fines or suspensions imposed upon players for unnecessary roughness or unsportsmanlike conduct on the playing field with respect to an opposing player or players shall be determined initially by a person appointed by the Commissioner after consultation concerning the person being appointed with the Executive Director of the NFLPA, as promptly as possible after the event(s) in question. Such person will send written notice of his action to the player, with a copy to the NFLPA. Within three (3) business days following such notification, the player, or the NFLPA with his approval, may appeal in writing to the Commissioner.(c)
The Commissioner (under Subsection (a)), or the person appointed by the Commissioner under Subsection (b), shall consult with the Executive Director of the NFLPA prior to issuing, for on-field conduct, any suspension or fine in excess of $50,000.(d)
The schedule of fines for on-field conduct will be provided to the NFLPA prior to the start of training camp in each season covered under this Agreement. The 2020 Schedule of Fines and Aggravating/Mitigating Factors, which have been provided to and accepted by the NFLPA and are attached hereto as Appendix U, shall serve as the basis of discipline for the infractions identified on that schedule. The designated minimum fine amounts will increase by 3% for the 2021 League Year, and each League Year thereafter during the term of this Agreement. On appeal, a player may assert, among other defenses, that any fine should be reduced because it is excessive when compared to the player’s expected earnings for the season in question. A player may also argue on appeal that the circumstances do not warrant his receiving a fine above the amount stated in the schedule of fines.(e)(i)
Fines or suspensions imposed upon players for violating the League’s Personal Conduct Policy, as well as whether a violation of the Personal Conduct Policy has been proven by the NFL, will be initially determined by a Disciplinary Officer jointly selected and appointed by the parties. Unless the parties mutually determine otherwise, the Disciplinary Officer shall serve a minimum two-year term. Thereafter, the Disciplinary Officer may be discharged by either party at any time upon 120 days’ written notice. Upon notice of intention to discharge or notice of intention to resign, the parties will each identify a minimum of two successor candidates. All timely candidates will then be promptly ranked by the parties. Within sixty days, the top two candidates will be interviewed by the parties. Absent agreement on a successor, the parties will alternately strike names from said list, with the party striking first to be determined by the flip of a coin. Should a party fail to identify, rank, interview or strike candidates in a timely manner, that party will forfeit its rights with respect to that step of the appointment process, including selection of the ultimate successor if that party fails to participate in alternate striking.(e)(ii)
The Disciplinary Officer will be responsible for conducting evidentiary hearings (pursuant to the procedures of Section 2 below), issuing binding findings of fact and determining the discipline that should be imposed, if any, in accordance with the Personal Conduct Policy.(e)(iii)
At least ten (10) calendar days prior to the hearing, the NFL shall inform the NFLPA, player and Disciplinary Officer of the recommended terms of discipline.(e)(iv)
The NFL will have the burden of establishing that the player violated the Personal Conduct Policy. The NFL also will publish mitigating factors for discipline which shall include acceptance of responsibility and cooperation, engagement with clinical resources and voluntary restitution.(e)(v)
The Disciplinary Officer’s disciplinary determination will be final and binding subject only to the right of either party to appeal to the Commissioner. The appeal shall be in writing within three business days of the Disciplinary Officer’s decision, and any response to the appeal shall be filed in writing within two business days thereafter. The appeal shall be limited to arguments why, based on the evidentiary record below, the amount of discipline, if any, should be modified. The Commissioner or his designee will issue a written decision that will constitute full, final and complete disposition of the dispute and will be binding upon the player(s), Club(s) and the parties to this Agreement.
Section 2. Hearings(a)
Hearing Officers. For appeals under Section 1(a) above, the Commissioner shall, after consultation with the Executive Director of the NFLPA, appoint one or more designees to serve as hearing officers. For appeals under Section 1(b) above, the parties shall, on an annual basis, jointly select two (2) or more designees to serve as hearing officers. For hearings under Section 1(e)(i) above, the Disciplinary Officer shall serve as the hearing officer. The salary and reasonable expenses for the services of the Disciplinary Officer and the designees referenced in this section shall be shared equally by the NFL and the NFLPA. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Commissioner may serve as hearing officer in any appeal under Section 1(a) of this Article at his discretion. In no event will the Commissioner serve as hearing officer in hearings under Section 1(e)(i).(b)
Representation. In any hearing provided for in this Article, a player may be accompanied by counsel of his choice. The NFLPA and NFL have the right to attend all hearings provided for in this Article and to present, by testimony or otherwise, any evidence relevant to the hearing.(c)
Telephone Hearings. Upon agreement of the parties, hearings under this Article may be conducted by telephone conference call or videoconference.(d)
Decision. Except as otherwise provided in Section 1(e) above, as soon as practicable following the conclusion of the hearing, the hearing officer will render a written decision which will constitute full, final and complete disposition of the dispute and will be binding upon the player(s), Club(s) and the parties to this Agreement with respect to that dispute. Any discipline imposed pursuant to Section 1(b) may only be affirmed, reduced, or vacated by the hearing officer, and may not be increased.(e)
Costs. Unless the Commissioner determines otherwise, each party will bear the cost of its own witnesses, counsel and other expenses associated with the appeal. (f) Additional Procedures for Appeals and Hearings Under Sections 1(a) and 1(e)(i).(e)(i)
Appeal hearings under Section 1(a) will be scheduled to commence within ten (10) days following receipt of the notice of appeal, except that hearings on suspensions issued during the playing season (defined for this Section as the first preseason game through the Super Bowl) will be scheduled for the second Tuesday following the receipt of the notice of appeal, with the intent that the appeal shall be heard no fewer than eight (8) days and no more than thirteen (13) days following the suspension, absent mutual agreement of the parties or a finding by the hearing officer of extenuating circumstances.(e)(i)(B)
Hearings conducted by the Disciplinary Officer under Section 1(e)(i) will be scheduled to commence within thirty (30) days following the NFL’s transmission of the investigative report and/or law enforcement or court documents forming the basis for review to the player, NFLPA and Disciplinary Officer, except that, during the playing season, the hearing will be scheduled to take place on the fourth Tuesday following the receipt of the investigative report absent mutual agreement of the parties or a finding by the hearing officer of extenuating circumstances. The investigative report shall contain a summary of the evidence found, whether inculpatory or exculpatory.(e)(i)(C)
If unavailability of counsel is the basis for a continuance, a new hearing shall be scheduled on or before the Tuesday following the original hearing date, without exception.(e)(ii)
In appeals under Section 1(a), the parties shall exchange copies of any exhibits upon which they intend to rely no later than three (3) calendar days prior to the hearing.(e)(ii)(B)
In hearings conducted under Section 1 (e) (i), the NFL shall produce any transcripts or audio recordings of witness interviews, any expert reports and court documents obtained or prepared by the NFL as part of its investigation, and any evidentiary material referenced in the investigative report that was not included as an exhibit at least ten (10) calendar days before the hearing. The parties shall exchange copies of any exhibits upon which they intend to rely that were not previously produced no later than five (5) calendar days prior to the hearing.(e)(ii)(C)
Failure to timely provide any intended exhibit shall preclude its introduction at the hearing.(e)(iii)
Record; Posthearing Briefs. Unless the parties agree otherwise, all hearings conducted under Sections 1(a) and 1(e) of this Article shall be transcribed. Posthearing briefs will not be permitted absent agreement of the NFL and NFLPA or the request of the hearing officer. If permitted, such briefs shall be limited to five pages (single-spaced) and must be filed no later than three (3) business days following the conclusion of the hearing.
Section 3. Time Limits
Each of the time limits set forth in this Article may be extended by mutual agreement of the parties or by the hearing officer upon appropriate motion.
Section 4. One Penalty
The Commissioner and a Club will not both discipline a player for the same act or conduct. The Commissioner’s disciplinary action will preclude or supersede disciplinary action by any Club for the same act or conduct.
Section 5. Commissioner Exempt
Players who are placed by the Commissioner on the Exempt list prior to the determination of discipline and any appeal therefrom under the Personal Conduct Policy will be paid while on the Commissioner Exempt list and credited for the regular and post-season games missed against any suspension ultimately imposed. Notwithstanding any other provision in this Agreement, if such a suspension is ultimately imposed, the player must promptly return and shall have no further right to any salary for the games for which he was paid while on the Commissioner Exempt list that were credited to the suspension (i.e., for a number of games no greater than the length of the suspension).
Section 6. Fine Money(a)
Fines will be deducted at the rate of no more than $3,500 from each pay period, if sufficient pay periods remain; or, if less than sufficient pay periods remain, the fine will be deducted in equal installments over the number of remaining pay periods. For the 2026–2030 League Years, the amount will increase from a rate of $3,500 to $4,500 from each pay period.(b)
For any fine imposed upon a player under Section 1(b), no amount of the fine will be withheld from the player’s pay pending the outcome of the appeal, except that if: (i) the fine is imposed on or after the thirteenth (13th) week of the regular season; (ii) the player or the NFLPA does not timely appeal; or (iii) the hearing on a fine imposed for conduct occurring through the thirteenth (13th) week of the regular season is delayed by the player or the NFLPA for any reason beyond the time provided for in Section 2(b) of this Article, the full amount of the fine shall be promptly collected.(c)
Unless otherwise agreed by the parties., fine money collected pursuant to this Article shall be allocated as follows: 50% to the Players Assistance Trust and 50% to charitable organizations jointly determined by the NFL and the NFLPA. In the absence of said joint determination, the NFL and the NFLPA shall each determine a charitable organization or organizations to which half of the second 50% shall be allocated.
Section 7. Permitted Activities for Players Suspended Under the Personal Conduct Policy
Players who have been placed on Reserve/Commissioner Suspension pursuant to the Personal Conduct Policy will be permitted to attend the club facility and participate in limited activities during the second half of any suspension period on terms substantially similar to the corresponding provisions of the policies on Performance-Enhancing Substances and Substances of Abuse.