The NFL's personal conduct policy is about to get stricter — but not before every team is allowed to start with a clean slate.
FOXSports.com has learned new league rules resulting in fines for clubs whose players are suspended for off-field violations begin June 1. But the NFL is pardoning franchises whose players' legal problems occurred before then.
That is good news for a team like the Minnesota Vikings, which has a player (left tackle Bryant McKinnie) facing serious criminal charges following a February arrest. McKinnie, who was arrested on three previous occasions during his NFL career, could face disciplinary action from league commissioner Roger Goodell once the case is resolved. The Vikings, though, won't be financially penalized regardless of the outcome of the McKinnie case.
Teams that sign free-agent players who face possible suspension also will not be fined if such punishment is levied.
"The policy on club fines is being applied going forward (prospectively), not retroactively," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello wrote in a Tuesday email. "The plan is that the club to be fined will be the club to which the player belonged at the time of the arrest or violation. But it only applies to arrests or violations occurring after June 1."
Goodell announced the policy change last week and said he may ultimately begin yanking draft choices from teams with multiple player violations. The moves add teeth to the personal conduct policy Goodell introduced in April 2007. Since Super Bowl XLII, the same number of players have gotten arrested or cited (27) as in the same span following last year's championship game.
"When you look at any particular window, it might not look like there's been significant progress," Goodell said at the NFL's spring meeting in Atlanta. "But I think there's a greater recognition of the issue. ... I recognize there have been incidents in recent weeks that concern me. That's one of the reasons we raised the [punishment] again. We will continue to address this issue. It is still a priority for us.
"As I said last year: This is not going to get resolved simply by issuing a new personal conduct policy. It's going to be a continuing reinforcement of the message. You're expected to act a particular way if you're going to be involved with the NFL — period."