How should the NFL handle their next move…

This year fans of the NFL have experienced what seems like one of the more traumatic “off field” seasons in quite some time. While each year and each off season we hear varied stories of players who get into trouble with the law, whether it be drug crimes, drunk driving, or other interesting legal issues, there seems always to be at least a handful of players getting in trouble, and believe it or not they don’t all play for the Cincinnati Bengals any more!

This year has been a little different. Some of the troubles that players like Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson have gotten themselves mixed up in have tugged at the heart strings of the public more so than in years past. This has made the commissioner and the league behave in a reactionary matter far more than we’re used to, and it seems to have some fans even turning their back on the league and it’s new policies.

What problems does this pose for the NFL, and more so for the players?

While I take an often unpopular view or perspective on matters like this, I was troubled with the way the league responded to the Ray Rice backlash. I understand that off field conduct is important for the league to monitor, as they are constantly working to “protect the shield,” and that certain conduct off the field does warrant a suspension of game time. The post-rice(version 1.0) policy that a player is automatically suspended for 4 games on an allegation of domestic violence bothered me greatly. I felt like this significantly shifted the balance of “power” into the hands of people who may want to take advantage of NFL players. By no means is this an across the board accusal, but there are people in this world who will take out their feelings and emotions on an individual by attempting to leverage the legal system. Now, someone who is “involved” with an NFL player in one way or another has the ability to allege criminal charges of domestic violence, and hold that player over a barrel financially, risking that player’s livelihood and their career. Clearly the Rice and Peterson situations involve a more clear distinction of some inappropriate behavior, whether each is deemed criminal or not isn’t for me to judge with a limited “media provided” set of facts. The reality of the situation, when the league imposes mandatory penalties and suspension like this, is that anyone has the power to potentially extort a player in the league, with a threat that they will file these charges, which will not only now result in potential criminal prosecution, but will also result in suspensions within the league.

This stuff happens every day. I regularly receive calls from individuals who are charged with a variety of offenses where when investigating and digging into the facts of the situations, it seems more likely than not the person who has initiated the charges is merely attempting to further another interest through the criminal justice system. Fortunately for these clients of mine, we are often able to have these charges dropped and removed, but this does not come without cost. To my clients, that cost is obviously my fee, but also the time and stress of dealing with the situation, the possible social issues that arise from picking up the charges or being arrested, and possible other collateral legal issues. For the NFL player, these things and now the threat of losing a few games that they will never get back become the possible costs here. I can work with clients to have charges that are dropped or result in a not guilty verdict expunged, but no lawyer, no matter how skilled, can put players back onto the field for games they were suspended during. No agent can reverse the result of their client not being on the field and accumulating the stats that most players leverage their next contracts on.

The NFL and other professional sports leagues need to take a hard look at the review process that they intend to implement with these new policies. They need to make sure they are not putting their players at an unnecessary disadvantage that stretches beyond the on field/off field issues that they’re trying to prevent. Preventing and educating about domestic violence is a noble cause, a cause that I fully support, but you cannot correct one harmful behavior by opening the door to another.

Are you ready for 2015?

We’re approaching the time of year here very shortly where many of us will begin to talk of new year’s resolutions. Some of those resolutions will involve some sort of a gym membership that will likely be unused by spring, or just an overall goal of losing weight, eating better, or perhaps some other more tangible goal.

Within my office, one of the many things that I will do to prepare for the turning of the calendar year is to

a: buy a new calendar for 2015!

b: set goals for my office, largely based on performance and helping out clients

c: archive files and “close out” the 2014 year

On a personal level, however, I find it important to spend the early weeks of a new year analyzing my personal automobile insurance policies. If I can make any general suggestions above and beyond what you may already have on your list, it would be to review and adjust your insurance policy for the new year. The laws about insurance change regularly, and with them the premiums may also change. Getting re-quoted may not save you money, but it’s worth doing because if you cannot get a better deal, you can stick with what you’ve already got!

A few quick tips on your Maryland Insurance Policy will be to make sure your liability and uninsured motorist coverage are representative of your income and your assets, maximize your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits, and verify that any other insurance coverages that you have like homeowners or renter’s insurance are “bundled” together if they are written by the same company. This bundling alone may save you as much as 15% on your policy, which can be a big savings.

I am always happy to talk to clients and potential clients about their insurance policies. I offer a free in-office insurance evaluation to anyone who calls (410) 885-6200 and requests one. The best part is, I’m not an insurance agent and I CAN NOT sell you insurance. This means I won’t even TRY to sell you insurance, but I can give you some pointers on what might be beneficial for you to update, should you potentially be in an auto accident. Give me a call, let’s sit down and make sure you’re protected and in a position to maximize your recovery, should you get in an accident in 2015.

Also, be on the lookout to the soon to be published new edition of my book regarding explanations and tips on buying Auto Insurance in Maryland, due out in January 2015!