NFL: Commissioner Roger Goodell, union to meet on workplace environment


ORLANDO, Fla. — Commissioner Roger Goodell said the NFL will meet on April 8 with the players union to discuss improving the workplace environment.

In the wake of the Miami Dolphins bullying scandal, league representatives have met with some 40 players in the last three months, as well as with the Dolphins and outside organizations, Goodell said Monday at the NFL owners meetings. The league is trying to get “as much input as possible. It’s more about people understanding the importance of a proper workplace.”

Goodell added the focus is on medical evaluations of the players involved, including tackle Jonathan Martin, who left the Dolphins in the middle of last season, saying he was harassed by guard Richie Incognito. Martin was traded to the 49ers earlier this month.

An NFL investigation determined Incognito and two other Miami Dolphins offensive linemen engaged in persistent harassment of Martin. Incognito was then suspended and missed the final eight games last season, and he became a free agent when his contract with the Dolphins expired.

On Monday, Incognito made a peace offering to Martin via Twitter. Incognito posted: “Call me on my cell phone. Love you brother. (Stuff) got crazy but we held it together,” with the hash tags of CALLME and FAMILY.

And in another tweet to Martin: “No hard feelings. Let’s just move on :)”

Goodell noted that improving the workplace environment involves “a culture change.” He did not address what discipline any of the players face from the league for the bullying.

“What we need to do is make sure we have a workplace we are all proud of. This will be an important meeting with the players,” Goodell said.

The NFLPA did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

Goodell also addressed the absence of Colts owner Jim Irsay, who has entered a treatment facility after police found multiple prescription drugs in his vehicle during a traffic stop earlier this month. The 54-year-old Irsay faces preliminary charges of misdemeanor driving while intoxicated and four felony counts of possession of a controlled substance.

“He is seeking help and he’s done that voluntarily,” Goodell said. “To my knowledge, there’s been no formal charges at this point. Obviously any policies or laws that are broken, whether they are (by) commissioner, player or coach those are subject to discipline.”

Irsay is being represented at the meetings by his daughter, Carlie. And Indianapolis’ suggestion that teams be allowed to open or close the stadium roof at halftime to enhance the fan experience has been tabled.

Ravens, Jets get four compensatory picks

ORLANDO, Fla. — The Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets each will receive four compensatory picks in this year’s draft for free agents they lost in 2013.

Baltimore gets spots in the third, fourth and fifth rounds, with two choices in Round 4. Those slots are 99th, 134th, 138th and 175th.

Among the free agents the Ravens lost after winning the 2012 NFL title were Ed Reed, Danell Ellerbe, Paul Kruger and Cary Williams, all key defensive players.

The Jets will get slots 139, 209, 210 and 213: a fourth-rounder and three sixth-rounders. They lost free agents Dustin Keller, Matt Slauson, Yeremiah Bell, Mike DeVito, Shonn Greene and LaRon Landry.

Judge refuses to release Sharper

LOS ANGELES — A judge in Los Angeles has again refused to release former NFL All-Pro safety Darren Sharper from jail.

Sharper is awaiting trial in Los Angeles after pleading not guilty to charges that he raped and drugged two women last year. He was previously released on $1 million bail before being charged in Arizona with similar counts.

Now, his lawyers say he should be freed again and kept under house arrest because authorities in Arizona have said they won’t seek his extradition.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Renee Korn rejected that argument on Monday, saying she would wait and see if Arizona does seek extradition.

Cardinals linebacker pleads guilty

PHOENIX — Arizona Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington has pleaded guilty to charges that he assaulted his ex-girlfriend.

Washington had a change-of-plea hearing Monday in Maricopa County Superior Court.

He pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, and a judge set sentencing for April 23.

By wire sources