Goodell awaiting police probe

Updated: October 14, 2009, 10:14 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

BOSTON -- If Oakland Raiders coach Tom Cable is implicated by police in their investigation of an alleged assault on an assistant coach, he will be subject to NFL discipline.

Commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday that workplace violence is specifically identified in the league's personal conduct policy, and if Cable is charged with any crimes, he could be punished by the NFL.

Goodell expects to receive a report "in the next couple weeks" on the Napa, Calif., police investigation, which is in the hands of the district attorney. He said the league is "allowing the criminal process to go forward for some period of time" before the NFL might get involved.

"What are the facts?" Goodell asked at the fall owners meetings. "There's a legal and criminal process going on to determine what are the facts."

Napa County district attorney Gary Lieberstein said his office continues to review the case and does not expect any announcement on whether charges will be filed this week.

Napa police presented the case to Lieberstein's office more than a week ago.

But criminal charges need not be brought against Cable for the NFL to discipline him, if Goodell determines Cable broke the league's conduct rules.

Defensive assistant Randy Hanson has alleged he was assaulted by Cable during training camp and his jaw was broken. Hanson also has claimed Cable threatened to kill him during the Aug. 5 attack.

Cable has denied the allegations and has been advised to stay silent.

The meetings began with Goodell delivering a report in which he emphasized the strong TV ratings the NFL has attracted through five weeks. Asked if the economic downturn actually has helped the NFL's popularity, Goodell said it was "one of the theories because we continue to be available on free television and fans are able to gather around the TV set."

But will they be able to do so in 2011? The owners opted out of the collective bargaining agreement with the players last year, and if a new one is not reached, a labor stoppage is possible that year.

Plus, next season would have no salary cap, a situation Goodell reiterated the owners are preparing for.

The league and NFLPA have met several times, but no negotiations on major economic issues have taken place. Goodell said union leadership has not asked for teams to open their books during any negotiating sessions.

"Are you kidding me?" NFLPA spokesman George Atallah responded to The Associated Press.

Goodell said the league is looking into claims by the San Francisco 49ers that the New York Jets tampered with the Niners' first-round draft pick, Michael Crabtree. The receiver signed with the 49ers earlier this month after a lengthy holdout.

The NFL also is investigating whether Browns rookie running back James Davis was injured after a practice during which he was not wearing shoulder pads, but was hit by a player who was padded.

Information from ESPN.com's Bill Williamson and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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