NFL Will Require Prospects to Submit to Background Checks Before Draft Events

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistFebruary 10, 2016

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell arrives for the Super Bowl 50 press conference February 5, 2016 at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, California.
A perfectly scripted duel between Peyton Manning and his heir apparent Cam Newton will captivate America on Sunday as the Super Bowl marks its 50th anniversary with a quarterback showdown for the ages. / AFP / Timothy A. CLARY        (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

The NFL will reportedly investigate prospects who plan on attending the NFL Scouting Combine or "other league-related draft events," per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.

On Tuesday, Florio explained this new policy, detailing what the NFL and college prospects must go through before the league investigates the players:

The prospect must provide authorization to the NFL during the Scouting Combine registration process. If the prospect refuses to provide authorization, the prospect’s invitation to participate in the Scouting Combine will be revoked, according to the memo sent on January 25 to all team presidents, General Managers and coaches.

This comes on the heels of a report from Lindsay H. Jones of USA Today that said, "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."   

Jones added, "Invited prospects would be barred from 'any league-related event' if a background check turns up a felony or misdemeanor conviction," according to a memo sent to teams from the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, Troy Vincent, last month. "Players that refuse to submit to a background check will also be uninvited."

Florio did point out the policy change does not prevent teams from independently assessing or selecting players who were banned from the league-sanctioned draft events and noted “the NFLPA had no comment on the new policy, which the league implemented unilaterally.”

Florio also looked at things from the prospects' eyes:

As a practical matter, players will gladly sign whatever paperwork they need to sign in order to participate in the Scouting Combine. Still, the mandatory background check represents yet another thing that is required of players as part of a lengthy preemployment process that, via the Combine, provides plenty of free entertainment and TV content for the NFL.

The NFL has faced backlash regarding its handling of domestic violence incidents in recent years, most notably with former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and defensive lineman Greg Hardy. Rice struck his then-fiancee in an elevator, while an arbitrator reduced Hardy’s initial suspension for allegedly assaulting and threatening his ex-girlfriend from 10 games to four.

Perhaps with that in mind, Vincent stressed character in the memo that notified teams of this policy change, 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."

Given that backlash and the new policies, teams will likely put even more emphasis on those values as they evaluate prospects in future drafts. Talent will always be a major deciding factor, but this policy will prevent decision-makers from even seeing certain prospects demonstrate that talent alongside their peers at the combine.

What’s more, the NFL should have more information available about those prospects who submit to the investigations before the combine, which will theoretically help teams make well-informed decisions on draft day.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.