BRADY HENDERSON

Seahawks lose draft pick, practices for violation of no-contact rules

Sep 19, 2016, 10:56 AM | Updated: 5:41 pm
The NFL deemed the Seahawks again violated the league's rules governing contact in offseason practi...
The NFL deemed the Seahawks again violated the league's rules governing contact in offseason practices. (AP)
(AP)

RENTON – The NFL has come down hard on the Seahawks for what it deemed to be another violation of the league’s collectively-bargained rules prohibiting excessive contact in offseason practices.

The penalties this time include most significantly the forfeiture of Seattle’s fifth-round pick in 2017. The Seahawks were also docked three offseason practices next year and fined $400,000 as a team. Coach Pete Carroll was separately fined $200,000.

The NFL previously disciplined the Seahawks in 2012 and 2014 for similar violations.

“I’m disappointed,” Carroll said Monday afternoon. “I’m really disappointed because we’ve worked really hard to try and do a great job. We’ve kind of been through this with the league over the years, over six years’ time, and after the second time, we made some real big changes in what we did.”

The NFL announced the punishment Monday morning, saying that the violation occurred during a June 6 Organized Team Activity (OTA), which was closed to the media. The league’s press release stated that during that practice, “players engaged in excessive on-field physical contact, which is expressly prohibited in all offseason workouts under the NFL-NFLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement.”

Carroll confirmed that the violation stemmed from one play in particular, when two players collided while going for the football. The Seahawks were practicing without helmets that day, something Carroll said they started doing routinely last year in order to better control players’ tempo and ensure compliance with the contact rules.

“We went into this year with all the alerts to do it well again and we had an unfortunate day, guys banged heads, and that brought an issue. The league came and checked it out and felt we were in violation,” Carroll said. “We’re trying to to do this really well and trying to be great at it, and really disappointed it came to this. But they’ve got to do what they’ve got to do, so we’re going to continue to work really hard to do this really well.

“We practice hard around here and we always have, and we have to do it right. So we’ve made strong efforts to do that, but we’re still working at it.”

Carroll said the team had become accustomed to practicing without helmets and within the rules. But on the play in question, he said, two young players “just went the wrong way at the wrong time and banged heads, and so that brought the focus, and that’s the way it came down.”

Losing their fifth-round pick is the most costly aspect of the Seahawks’ punishment. They will also lose their first week of OTAs next year, which amounts to three days. The two previous violations led to fines and the loss of offseason practices – in 2014, in was more than $300,000 and two days of minicamp – but no draft picks.

In noting the $200,000 fine for Carroll, the NFL’s press release stated that, as the team’s head coach, “he is responsible for maintaining appropriate control over practices and intervening if prohibited conduct occurs.”

“We’ve got to do – I’ve got to do a better job and make sure that we are toeing the line with the standards,” Carroll said.

Here is the NFL’s announcement of the Seahawks’ latest punishment:

The NFL today notified the Seattle Seahawks of the discipline being imposed for violating NFL-NFLPA work rules that prohibit excessive contact in all offseason workouts.

During the team’s June 6, 2016 Organized Team Activity (OTA) day, players engaged in excessive on-field physical contact, which is expressly prohibited in all offseason workouts under the NFL-NFLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement. The prohibition is one of several measures the NFL and NFLPA implemented to enhance player safety by limiting contact during offseason workout programs. The rules also help to prevent any team from gaining a competitive advantage. 

As a result of this violation, the club will be fined $400,000 and will forfeit its first week of 2017 OTAs (three OTA days). Seahawks’ players will be paid for the cancelled sessions. Head Coach Pete Carroll, who is responsible for maintaining appropriate control over practices and intervening if prohibited conduct occurs, will be fined $200,000. Finally, as a result of the Seahawks’ prior violations of these same OTA rules, the club will forfeit its fifth-round selection in the 2017 Draft.  

In the letter notifying the club of the discipline, the NFL referenced Appendix G of the CBA which underscores the importance of player safety and the purpose of the “no-live-contact” rule: 

Voluntary off-season workout programs are intended to provide training, teaching and physical conditioning for players.  The intensity and tempo of drills should be at a level conducive to learning, with player safety as the highest priority, and not at a level where one player is in a physical contest with another player. 

The decision to impose discipline was made after the NFL and NFLPA independently reviewed the Seahawks’ June 6, 2016 on-field practice video and agreed that the club had violated the “no-live-contact” rule, as set forth in Article 21, Section 2(b)(iii), Section 5(a) and Appendix G of the CBA.

The Seahawks were also advised that any additional violation of the CBA’s player work rules, or any violation affecting the competitive aspects of the game, will likely result in significantly higher fines, the cancellation of future OTA days, minicamp days, preseason or regular season practices, as well as the forfeiture of higher-round or multiple draft selections. 

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Seahawks lose draft pick, practices for violation of no-contact rules