Players suggest 'three strikes' rule at meeting

Updated: February 23, 2007, 2:29 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Recent off-field incidents involving NFL players have the league's own athletes suggesting a "three strikes, you're out" conduct policy, NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw told ESPN's Chris Mortensen.

"That surprised me," Upshaw said. "But there was a feeling in the room that the same guy can't be in the wrong place at the wrong time three or four times."

The suggestion came out of a four-hour meeting of the league conduct advisory committee, held in Indianapolis, the site of the NFL Scouting Combine. Further discussion of such a policy will be taken up by the league's competition committee at the NFL owners' meetings in March, Mortensen reported.

In a story on the Cincinnati Bengals' team Web site, the meeting was described as a power lunch that included NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, owners Dan Rooney of the Steelers and Pat Bowlen of the Broncos, and current players invited to talk about off-field problems facing players.

T.J. Houshmandzadeh, NFLPA President Troy Vincent, Steve Smith, DeAngelo Hall and Jeff Saturday were present, as were LenDale White, Ernie Conwell, Jason Witten, Ken Hamlin and Kevin Carter. Bengals coach Marvin Lewis also attended.

Upshaw said he was surprised by the hard line on misbehavior taken by the players in attendance.

"What's amazing about these guys that were here is that they are very, very concerned about all of this," Upshaw said, according to the report. "They talked up, they spoke, they gave us all the information we need and now we just have to take it to the next level."

"What was interesting -- and I didn't think I would hear this -- is that the players believe when it comes to the personal conduct area, you can't be in the wrong place at the wrong time three or four times in a row," Upshaw said, according to the report. "There comes a time when maybe you need to look at saying, 'OK, that's enough, you did it three times, you should be out.' You have to look at each circumstance, but they're saying there has to be some penalties for your actions."

"[Goodell's] concerned," Witten told the Dallas Morning News. "He's looking for ways to protect the guys in a general way, and he wants to have the players' perceptions of things as we're living it."

According to the report, Goodell, who has dealt with the shooting death of Denver Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams, the arrest of nine members of the Cincinnati Bengals in a year and most recently an incident at a Las Vegas club involving Adam "Pacman" Jones, reiterated a statement he made during Super Bowl week: Players and teams must be more accountable.

Goodell said the NFL could "potentially" modify its disciplinary policies over the offseason in one response to the outbreak in arrests, according to the report. Financial sanctions accessed to teams that continually have offenders and a revamping of the discipline sections of the collective bargaining agreement are some options being speculated.

"The one thing that's impressive is their focus on the game and their passion for the game ... and how important it is to them that the game be perceived well and that players be perceived well," Goodell said, according to the report. "They have a great interest in that. I think there's an issue of players where they recognize they hold a special place in communities because of the popularity of the NFL and they recognize they have a responsibility."