Report: NFL hires former ATF chief B. Todd Jones as counsel

B. Todd Jones  

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PHOENIX — The NFL has hired B. Todd Jones, the recently resigned director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, to oversee player discipline.

Two people familiar with the hiring tell The Associated Press that Commissioner Roger Goodell told the owners on Monday that Jones would join the NFL in April. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the league has not announced the appointment.

Lisa Friel will serve as the NFL’s special counsel for investigations, the sources said.

Jones, who announced his resignation on March 20, will be in charge of the league’s new personal conduct policy — adopted in December — including fining and suspending violators.

The NFL has had several high-profile issues with player conduct and its investigative processes recently.

Jones spent less than two years as ATF director, although he was the bureau’s acting director for nearly two years before that.

Goodell had said in December the league would hire someone to handle investigations of player misconduct and discipline. He has decided to split those duties, with Friel handling investigations and Jones focusing on punishment.

Goodell was heavily criticized for originally handing down a two-game suspension to former Ravens running back Ray Rice for hitting his wife in a casino elevator. Once video of the punch went public, Goodell said he erred in the punishment and suspended Rice indefinitely. The Ravens cut Rice.

An arbitrator later ruled in favor of Rice on appeal, vacating the suspension. However, no team has signed Rice.

The Rice case and others involving Greg Hardy and Adrian Peterson led to a stronger player conduct policy, with six-game suspensions for domestic violence offenses.

Friel was a senior adviser to the league as it developed the policy. She was the head of the Sex Crimes Prosecution Unit in the New York County District Attorney’s Office for more than a decade.