NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith address reporters. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith in harsh terms said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's explanation of how the league's personal conduct policy was overhauled was a falsehood.
"He lied," Smith said in response to questioning from Bryant Gumbel during an interview that will air Tuesday night on HBO.
NFL owners unanimously approved a more stringent personal conduct policy in December 2014 following a series of high-profile incidents, the most notable featuring former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice.
How that policy evolved is what drew a terse response from union chief Smith during the sit-down with Gumbel.
"When Roger Goodell can stand up there as he did and say, 'We're drafting a new NFL Personal Conduct Policy. We're gonna do so in conjunction with the union,' and then doesn't consult the union, comes up with a new policy, that says what?" Gumbel asked Smith.
"That says he lied," Smith said.
With the NFLPA filing an appeal last week of a six-game suspension handed to Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott for violating the league's personal conduct policy after multiple domestic violence incidents, the relationship between the union and league office again is in the spotlight.
"He has a job," Smith said. "And I have a job. My relationship with Roger I would argue is irrelevant."
The broadened powers under the more rigid policy has allowed Goodell to serve as judge and jury in deciding both the punishment and appeals of players, a point of contention between the league and union.
Smith somewhat sidestepped another question by Gumbel of whether he trusts the commissioner.
"I don't have the luxury of trust, now do I?" Smith said.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy responded to Smith's comments, according to Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio.
"We repeatedly tried to engage the union but they had no interest in developing a tough and enhanced personal conduct policy," McCarthy told HBO.