NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is still weighing his thoughts on player conduct, but Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio made his position and expectations on the matter clear to his players during a team meeting on Tuesday.
"I held a team meeting to discuss with the guys player-conduct concerns. I wanted to remind them of the responsibility they have to be good citizens and be careful and smart, and how quickly a lot of good effort and work can go by the wayside," Del Rio told jaguars.com of the meeting.
Del Rio met with players who were at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium for their offseason conditioning workouts. Attendance at the meeting was not mandatory.
"The majority of guys are visiting hospitals and schools and raising money for charity and it doesn't apply to them," Del Rio said. "We're all affected by this. It's important to your teammates. It's important to me and it's important to Wayne Weaver."
Player conduct has become a hot issue leaguewide in this offseason, on the heels of national notoriety Tennessee's Pacman Jones and Cincinnati's Chris Henry have acquired for brushes with law enforcement. The Jaguars gained notoriety locally this offseason when wide receiver Charles Sharon and safety Gerald Sensabaugh were involved in gun-related arrests.
"Fair or unfair doesn't matter," Del Rio said of media attention that was directed toward the arrests. He elected not to speak on the specific arrests because "it would sound like I'm trying to explain it away," he added.
"I think what it stems from is, number one, it's become a story," Del Rio said of the media attention that is being afforded the player-conduct subject. "The commissioner realizes the NFL stands for something unique. We have to do everything we can to respect what the NFL shield represents."
Player conduct was one of the top two issues at last week's owners meetings in Phoenix. Del Rio and Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver attended the meetings.
"A lot of different people spoke (on player conduct). I think the commissioner's gathering all the information he can," Del Rio said. "You're never going to eliminate individual mistakes, but we want to minimize them."
Goodell is expected to rule soon on what, if any, punishment Jones and Henry will receive for their arrests. Player conduct is one of the first high-profile, hot-potato issues Goodell has faced as commissioner.
Former commissioner Paul Tagliabue, however, was stern in his position on player conduct. At the league's 2005 rookie symposium, Tagliabue said: "How long you play in the NFL will depend on how well you conduct yourself. NFL fans do not support players who make spectacles of themselves. That includes players who do not honor their contracts or violate the law or do not adhere to our substance abuse policies. If you engage in that type of negative conduct, you will suffer severe consequences."
Asked if player conduct in the league today is worse than it was when he was a player (1985-95), Del Rio said: "No, I don't believe that. I believe the internet and modern technology has created a situation that everything goes world wide."
Does he believe his players got the message delivered at Tuesday's team meeting?
"A good majority got it before, but we have to do everything we can to bring everybody in line," Del Rio said.