Confusion over Leroy Hill, NFL policy

The NFL's substance-abuse policy says suspended players may not "participate" in games or practices.

Did Seattle Seahawks linebacker Leroy Hill violate the policy by attending the team's regular-season opener? The policy does not seem to forbid suspended players from attending games as fans.

"We do not expect to conclude the review before next week," a league spokesman said in an email to reporters.

Coach Pete Carroll appeared to admit a violation when speaking with reporters Friday.

"I didn’t know what the rule was on that one, and I didn’t tell him," Carroll said. "So what he did, he did on his own. But we should have been able to let him know what was going on. We just didn't tell him. So he showed up. He was there, but I didn’t see him around. The rule says a guy that’s suspended isn’t supposed to be at the stadium. And so I didn’t know that. We found out the hard way."

Carroll didn't know the rule then and I'm not sure he understands it now. Perhaps the NFL has given him a clearer explanation than the one available through the policy itself. The substance-abuse policy doesn't say anything about the stadium, to my knowledge. It reads, in part:

"The player shall be eligible to participate in all off-season (not including post-season games) and pre-season club functions, training programs, practices, pre-season games and meetings, up to and including the date of the team’s last pre-season game in the next NFL season. Additionally, the player shall be eligible, at the discretion of the club, to participate in all inseason club functions, training programs and meetings, but not in any in-season games or practices. Notwithstanding the foregoing, a player may not participate with his team in joint press conferences with team officials on or off club premises.

Hill was at the team's facility in the days leading up to the game. He was not part of the team Sunday, to my knowledge.

Carroll's ongoing spat with the NCAA over sanctions levied against USC will make him an easy target for critics if the Seahawks incur penalties for policy violations stemming from his first game back in the NFL.

I just don't see anything in the policy prohibiting a player from attending a game on his own, separate from the team. Perhaps the league is looking into where that was the case.