As a matter of routine, the league has issued reminders to teams, ahead of the NFL draft, about what constitutes improper questioning in their personal interviews with draft prospects.
This year, however, violations of those guidelines could come with an especially tangible and painful penalty -- forfeiture of a draft pick no lower than a fourth-round selection. In a league memo sent to clubs, obtained by NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport and NFL Network's Mike Garafolo, clubs were alerted that penalties could include team fines, individual fines and suspensions, as well.
"We aim for dignity, respect and professionalism," NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent told the Associated Press. "It's that simple."
Past allegations of inappropriate questions in interviews with prospects have prompted league investigations, as well as inquiries from state attorney generals.
"If it is determined that a club representative(s) conducted themselves in a disrespectful, inappropriate, or unprofessional manner during an interview, the individual(s) and club will be subject to accountability measures," the memo stated. "Accountability measures will include the imposition of a minimum club fine of $150,000 and the forfeiture of a draft selection valued no later than the fourth-round of the Draft. Fines and/or suspensions of individual club employees may also be imposed."
The memo's general directive requires teams to ensure that questions for both draft prospects and free agents are "consistent with state and federal law and our shared commitment to respect, diversity and inclusion." The memo also addresses legalities involved in the recording of virtual interviews, as laws on recording conversations vary from state to state. The memo discourages but does not prohibit clubs from recording virtual interviews in adherence with applicable laws, and requires teams to keep recorded interviews (audio or video) for 120 days. Those recordings are subject to league review upon request.