Premium Partners

NFL Execs Vow Action to Regulate Locker-Room Culture

AthleticBusiness.com has partnered with LexisNexis to bring you this content.

Copyright 2014 Virginian-Pilot Companies LLC
All Rights Reserved
The Virginian-Pilot(Norfolk, VA.)

By Arnie Stapleton, The Associated Press


Now that the NFL knows the scope of the racially charged Miami Dolphins bullying scandal, the league has been left to grapple with what its next steps should be.

A report released Friday on the Miami case concluded with a one-paragraph call to action:

"As all must surely recognize, the NFL is not an ordinary workplace. Professional football is a rough contact sport played by men of exceptional size, speed, strength and athleticism. But even the largest, strongest and fleetest person may be driven to despair by bullying, taunting and constant insults. We encourage the creation of new workplace conduct rules and guidelines that will help ensure that players respect each other as professionals and people."

League executives agree steps need to be taken, and have vowed to take action. But it may be difficult to regulate locker-room behavior by determining when something a player considers to be harmless locker-room nonsense crosses the line. Players are part of a team, but they are also individuals with different levels of sensitivity.

Locker rooms are work environments where even without the kinds of vicious taunts and racist insults cited in the report, behavior that would not be accepted in society is tolerated, and even condoned or encouraged.

Still, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross wants his organization to lead the way to change the culture.

"I have made it clear to everyone within our organization that this situation must never happen again," Ross said in a statement released through the team. "We are committed to address this issue forcefully and to take a leadership role in establishing a standard that will be a benchmark in all of sports."

Before the Super Bowl, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had said he'd be out in front on the issue of hazing.

"Our No. 1 priority has to make sure that we have a workplace environment that's professional, recognizing that we have some unique circumstances. But we have to make sure that our players, (and) other employees, have that kind of professional workplace environment," Goodell said then.

After the report got released, the NFL did not mention any possible punishment stemming from the case in a statement emailed by a league spokesman.

The report by lawyer Ted Wells said "the behavior that occurred here was harmful to the players, the team and the league," but he noted the investigators weren't asked to recommend discipline or determine legal liability for the bullying.

"There are lines - even in a football locker room - that should not be crossed, as they were here," the report said.

Players would like to police themselves.

Teams want a big say in setting those parameters.

The league is taking a hard look at the report, which details homophobic invective directed at Andrew McDonald, who was referred to as "Player A."

That element in particular is a hot button issue in light of Michael Sam's recent revelation that he's homosexual, putting him in line to become the league's first openly gay player.

 

 
February 18, 2014

 

 
 

 

Copyright © 2014 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Terms and Conditions Privacy Policy
Buyer's Guide
Information on more than 3,000 companies, sorted by category. Listings are updated daily.
Learn More
Buyer's Guide
AB Show 2022 in Orlando
AB Show is a solution-focused event for athletics, fitness, recreation and military professionals.
Learn More
AB Show