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Giants players not sold on new NFL conduct policy

12/11/2014

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- On Wednesday, the high-ranking NFLPA officials in the New York Giants' locker room basically offered the union's official reaction when asked about the NFL's new personal conduct policy. They were on the practice field when it was announced, hadn't had a chance to look at it yet and were upset that the league hadn't agreed to collectively bargain it with them.

A day later, after everyone had a chance to review the particulars of the policy itself, we went back to Giants long snapper Zak DeOssie and linebacker Mark Herzlich. Both serve on the union's executive council.

"It still ends the same way it always did," DeOssie said. "With Roger [Goodell] as the arbitrator. We want neutral arbitration, and that will continue to be our stance."

DeOssie said he also had issues with the idea of the league conducting its own independent investigations concurrent with law enforcement's investigations.

"Different laws in different states, things like that," he said. "We'd love more clarity on that, and I'm sure we'll get it, but that doesn't sit well. And then if the policy is universal for owners and team officials as well as players, how's it going to work when the arbitration officer is someone who's employed by the owners?"

Basically, the whole thing has left a sour taste in the union's mouth, and union leadership it taking the position that this was forced on them without their consent. As Herzlich pointed out, that's the league's right, per the collective bargaining agreement. He just doesn't think it was the wisest way for the league to go.

"The more channels it goes through, the more fair it seems to us," Herzlich said. "I think they're moving in the right direction in terms of changes. But at the same time, we want to have a say. I think it works best when we can all sit and talk about it."

Herzlich pointed out that the owners were willing to open up the collective bargaining agreement to rework the drug policy earlier this year in an effort to secure HGH testing. But the rebuttal to that is that the CBA contained a specific stipulation that allowed for that part of it to be renegotiated once a reliable HGH test was identified.

The result is that the players know they're stuck with the new policy, but they will push back if they believe there are parts of it that are unfair.

"If they do something that takes away players' rights unfairly, we will fight that, absolutely," Herzlich said. "That's a union's job. So we'll keep looking at it and we'll see where things go from here."