James Saxon case proves that PR drives the Personal Conduct Policy – NBC Sports

Arizona Cardinals v Dallas Cowboys

Arizona Cardinals v Dallas Cowboys

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On Monday, Judge Sue L. Robinson accused the NFL of reacting too strongly to public opinion in the administration of the Personal Conduct Policy. She failed to realize that public opinion drives all politics.

The policy exists as a mechanism to authorize the league to take action against players and others who have problems while away from work. For most employers, off-duty conduct is not the employer’s concern. But the NFL has been concerned about such things because the public expects that action will be taken against those who may be wasting the “privilege” of being associated with The Shield by getting into trouble when they are not operating under its auspices.

However, the Personal Conduct Policy involves a bit of a PR balancing act for the league. It’s one thing to act when an off-field situation has been heavily covered, discussed and scrutinized, like the Deshaun Watson case When someone gets into trouble and the media doesn’t notice, the league has to choose between acting – and therefore turning a non-story into a story – or letting sleeping dogs lie.

A perfect example of this dynamic comes from the NFL’s use of Cardinals running backs coach James Saxon. On Friday, it was reported for the first time that he was arrested in May on domestic battery charges. After the report came out, the Cardinals placed Saxon on paid administrative leave, at the league’s recommendation.

That timeline led many to conclude that either Saxon did not tell the cardinals about the situation or the cardinals did not tell the connection. That is not the case; As coach Kliff Kingsbury told reporters on Friday, the team knew about the arrest when it happened, and the team reported it to the league at that time.

The league, according to the team, did not recommend administrative leave until today, after the report came out.

The implication is obvious. The league did not want to create a story out of the Saxon arrest when no such story existed. If he had been placed on administrative leave at that time, someone would have asked, “Hey, where’s Coach Saxon?” Intentionally waiting, no one knew. Which prevented the league from having to deal with a negative story about a coach being charged with domestic battery.

There is a certain hypocrisy in the league’s decision to take no action until it has to. The NFL will discipline employees and teams who fail to report incidents immediately. But the NFL will reserve the right to withhold such incidents from the public if they are not otherwise generally known. Then, after someone reports the matter, the league will do what it should have already done — but which it didn’t want to do because it preferred to have no one know about the arrest.

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