Freshening up on NFL's tampering policy

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

A quick look at highlights from the NFL's anti-tampering policy while the 49ers' charges against the Jets are pending:

No club, nor any person employed by or otherwise affiliated with a club, is permitted to tamper with a player who is under contract to or whose exclusive negotiating rights are held by another club. ...

The following chain of events is enumerated here as one example of a violation of the policy against tampering with another club's players:

1. A club's representative, or a third-party intermediary of that club (Club A), is involved in a private meeting or conversation with a player (or his representative) who is under contract to, or whose negotiating rights are held by, another club (Club B); and

2. The League obtains substantiation that after or during the above contact with the player, Club A has stated, publicly or privately, its interest in obtaining his services (see 'Public/Private Statements' below); and

3. Contract problems or other disputes subsequently arise between the player and Club B (for example, the player’s failure to report on time to Club B).

    In circumstances like those of the example above, tampering will be found even in the absence of a demonstrated cause-and-effect relationship between the player’s contract problems and his prior involvement with the other club. In other words, a club will not be able to defend a tampering charge in these circumstances by asserting that its private contact with a player (or the player’s representative) did not involve any expression of interest in the player or was not related in any way to the player’s subsequent contract problem with his club.

    The policy concludes by warning teams that they will be subject to "severe disciplinary action by the commissioner" for violations. The policy sets no guidelines for punishment. The league can presumably act as it sees fit.