Goodell: Players must be evaluated

Updated: March 25, 2014, 10:19 AM ET
By Jeff Legwold | ESPN.com

ORLANDO, Fla. -- NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the three players named in the league's investigation into the Miami Dolphins bullying scandal must be evaluated by "medical professionals" and complete treatment before they will be allowed to return to the playing field.

The three players named in Ted Wells' 144-page report as subjecting former Dolphins tackle Jonathan Martin to "a pattern of harassment" were Richie Incognito, John Jerry and Mike Pouncey -- all offensive linemen.

Goodell was asked at the league meetings Monday if the three could still face suspensions or other league discipline and said the priority right now was on evaluations by medical personnel chosen jointly by the league and the NFL Players Association and the recommended treatment that would follow those evaluations. And none of the three could play or practice with a team until they complete both the evaluations and any treatment program.

"Our focus right now, at least in the case of the three players, is that they would be evaluated," Goodell said. "We've talked with the union several times about that and we agreed that was the right first step. Once they've been evaluated, the medical professionals, which are joint medical professionals, will make determinations whether any treatment is necessary and it will be a requirement that they fulfill that."

Asked if those players could still face suspensions after completing any treatment program, Goodell said:

"The first phase for us is to get the evaluation to determine what the treatment is, depending on the doctors prescribe there, that could prevent them from being part of football for some period of time, but that's a medical decision."

Martin was traded to the San Francisco 49ers this offseason, Incognito was released by the team and remains an unsigned free agent, Jerry recently signed with the New York Giants and Pouncey is still with the Dolphins.

Goodell added Monday he will meet with NFLPA officials on April 8 to discuss "improving the workplace environment." Goodell said he also has met with at least 40 players over the last three months as well as with Dolphins officials and other outside organizations which have faced similar issues in a workplace in trying to determine if any future policy changes are needed.

"We're trying to get as much input as possible," Goodell said. "This is culture change, while modifying policies from time to time are important, this is more about people understanding the professional workplace where there is respect for everybody, whether that's a teammate, opponent, game officials, and we have to provide that. We want to engage with our players ... to make sure we're making the right decisions long term."

Jeff Legwold

ESPN Denver Broncos reporter

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