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More time needed for tougher conduct policy

PHOENIX (March 26, 2007) -- One day after yet another NFL player was arrested, Commissioner Roger Goodell said a stronger player conduct policy will not be completed at these league meetings.

By next month, however, Goodell expects to have in place the stricter plan and hopes to make some disciplinary decisions before the April 28-29 draft.

"It's a complicated issue and there are no simple answers," Goodell said, adding he planned to meet with coaches and owners in a day or so to discuss player conduct. "We want to find out what is working well with the clubs and what is not working, get a set of best practices so they can implement them on a local basis."

"We're expecting discipline will be stepped up," he added.

NFL Players Association executive director Gene Upshaw has expressed his support of a tougher disciplinary policy.

Goodell listed educational programs as a key step, and wants players to become more familiar with local laws. In the past year, such players as cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones of Tennessee, with 10 separate encounters with the police, and defensive tackle Tank Johnson of Chicago, sentenced last week to four months in jail on weapons charges, have drawn headlines for their misconduct. So did nine Cincinnati Bengals who got in trouble off the field.

On March 25, Carolina Panthers reserve guard D'Anthony Batiste was arrested and charged with carrying a concealed weapon, a misdemeanor. On March 26, Las Vegas police said they will seek felony and misdemeanor charges against Jones and two others in a February shooting at a strip club.

"I've spoken to over 50 players on this issue, and they all believe leadership in mentoring younger players is important," Goodell said. "That's one of the things we'll be encouraging. I'm supportive of creating a player advisory council that would give me some input, maybe even into individual cases."

The NFL did get some business done, adopting an expanded program of revenue sharing designed to help lower-revenue clubs. The complex arrangement requires that a team must be spending 65 percent or more of its revenues on player costs before it qualifies for the separate pool of $430 million being made available, retroactive to 2006.

A franchise also must have gate revenues equal to at least 90 percent of the league average. Then, the franchise could not have been sold in the 2006-09 period, and if it has a new or renovated stadium with an expenditure of at least $150 million, it doesn't qualify for the extra funds.

This plan does not apply to the $3.7 billion annually in TV money from Fox, NBC, CBS and ESPN, or the $700 million from DirecTV, all of which the 32 teams split equally.

Qualifying teams share the extra funds: $100 million for 2006, then $110 million for each of the next three years. Once the added funds bring the team back to 65 percent of revenues on player costs, that team stops collecting.

Goodell said only Cincinnati and Jacksonville of the 32 teams voted against the plan.

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