All 32 teams were emailed a memo in January that outlined the new rule. Every player that wants to participate in the combine must give the NFL authorization to do a background check. If that check turns up any felony or misdemeanor convictions, the player will be banned from the event. Any player who refuses to give authorization to do the background check in the first place will also be turned away.
Those with access to the full memo say Troy Vincent, the league’s executive vice president of football operations, stressed good character as an essential part of staying committed to league values.
While prospects with criminal records will be banned from any league related events, it is not the end of the road. The new policy doesn’t put any restrictions on players being invited to private workouts, regional combines and pro days, so teams could independently assess players and bring them on board.
While the new policy is a solid effort to clean up the NFL’s act, you have to wonder if it is tough enough. Teams have already shown they are willing to take a chance or turn a blind eye if a player is good on the field. What happens when a team decides to go the independent route and a player with a record re-offends? We applaud the NFL’s effort, but as with all background screening programs, it’s only effective if it is used consistently and across the board.