NFL Bans Players Convicted of Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence from Combine

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistFebruary 9, 2016

A general view of an NFL logo on the 50-yard line prior to an NFL football game between the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Ravens Monday, Nov. 30, 2015, in Cleveland. Baltimore won 33-27. (AP Photo/David Richard)
David Richard/Associated Press

The NFL informed teams of a policy change for the NFL Scouting Combine in late January, according to Lindsay H. Jones of USA Today, who noted Troy Vincent, the league's vice president of football operations, released a memo to do so.

Jones provided the details Monday: "The NFL will no longer allow players with convictions for domestic violence, sexual assault or weapons offenses to attend the annual scouting combine in Indianapolis."

"Invited prospects would be barred from 'any league-related event' if a background check turns up a felony or misdemeanor conviction," Jones noted. "Players that refuse to submit to a background check will also be uninvited."

Those players would also not be invited to the draft.

Jones pointed out former Michigan Wolverines linebacker and Seattle Seahawks second-round pick Frank Clark would not have been allowed at the combine for the 2015 draft if the rule had been in place then, noting, "Clark pleaded guilty to a lesser charge after an arrest for a domestic violence incident."

No. 1 pick Jameis Winston would have been allowed to attend the 2015 combine and draft, however, because he was never convicted for sexual assault allegations.

In terms of the upcoming combine and draft, TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin could be one of the first to face the repercussions of this policy change. Boykin was charged with felony assault of a police officer and suspended for his team's Alamo Bowl showdown with Oregon.

If Boykin is convicted and banned from the combine, he will have another avenue through which to make an impression on NFL teams, per Jones: "Vincent told teams that players who are barred from the combine will have no restrictions from attending other private workouts, pro days and regional combines."

Vincent also highlighted the importance of values in the memo, per Jones: "It is important for us to remain strongly committed to league values as we demonstrate to our fans, future players, coaches, general managers, and others who support our game that character matters," Vincent wrote.

The NFL and its players have faced plenty of backlash regarding domestic violence in recent years.

A video emerged in 2014 showing former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice hitting his then-fiancee in an elevator, and questions about how the league and Commissioner Roger Goodell handled the evidence arose in the aftermath.

Before the 2015 season, the Dallas Cowboys signed Greg Hardy, and ESPN.com detailed why many took issue with Dallas' decision:

On May 13, he was arrested and charged with assaulting and threatening to kill his ex-girlfriend, Nicole Holder.

A Mecklenburg (North Carolina) County judge found Hardy guilty on July 15. The verdict was set aside when Hardy requested a jury trial.

All charges were dropped Feb. 9 because Holder refused to cooperate with the district attorney's office after receiving a financial settlement from Hardy.

The NFL later reduced Hardy's suspension from 10 games to four, which drew more ire.

The combine policy change is not the only thing the league has done to fix its image when it comes to domestic violence. The NFL also created the No More campaign, per NoMore.org:

Shortly after, in an expansion of an ongoing partnership between No More and the National Football League, the NFL began airing the original No More celebrity PSAs during football broadcasts and in stadiums during games. Then came a groundbreaking opportunity involve players in sharing this critical message of standing up and speaking out to say No More to domestic violence and sexual assault.


Nearly two dozen current and former NFL players stepped up to support the cause in a new series of public service announcements.

The league also aired an anti-domestic-violence ad during last year's Super Bowl and Sunday's contest for the Lombardi Trophy between the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers.

Jones noted the policy change revealed Monday will impact only "a handful of players each year" and that more than 300 prospects typically attend the combine in preparation for the draft.