Owners want Goodell role modified

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL Players Association chief DeMaurice Smith will both be present when the two sides meet Tuesday in New York to discuss how to handle player personal conduct incidents.

One concept that emerged from the league meetings Wednesday is that several owners want Goodell's role to be modified so that the commissioner would not decide on the initial player punishment but rather yield to a neutral arbitration panel chosen by the union and league, a source said.

The twist: Goodell would be the appellate officer or appoint a designated hearing officer if a player appeals his disciplinary action administered by the panel, sources told ESPN.

Union sources sounded dubious about the idea and said that modifying the personal conduct policy and process requires collective bargaining. The sources added that a collective bargaining approach would bring owners to the negotiation table, something the NFLPA would prefer on the player conduct issue.

As far as his role in the ongoing Ray Rice case, NFL attorneys declined the NFLPA's request to have Goodell testify in front of U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones, who is hearing and deciding the appeal of Rice's indefinite suspension, a source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

It doesn't mean Goodell won't testify, as Jones could compel him to do so. But the last thing the NFL wants, sources told Schefter, is to have Goodell's word matched up against Rice's, who has told people he told the commissioner nothing but the truth.