NEW YORK (AP) — Troy Vincent is hitting the road in his new job as the NFL's football operations director, meeting with players who have been suspended for on-field incidents.
He would not specify which players. Nor did Vincent reveal the identity of other players who are on a league list of those closing in on suspensions for further on-field rules violations. But he's got a clear plan about what he will discuss with them.
"It's all about educating," says Vincent, who recently replaced Ray Anderson in one of the league's most powerful jobs. "The devil is in the details.
"When I am making the rounds with the suspended players, I want to make sure we are educating them to keep them on the field. What were they seeing on the plays (that led to suspensions)? Are they seeing what they are supposed to? Do they completely understand the rules? It's about taking the guessing out."
Among the players suspended by the league last season were Texans defensive end Antonio Smith, Titans safety Michael Griffin, Buccaneers safety Dashon Goldson, Redskins safety Brandon Merriweather and Colts linebacker Erik Walden, each for one regular-season game. Each for illegal hits.
Vincent, a former Pro Bowl defensive back and a former president of the NFL Players Association, certainly recognizes what players see and feel in the heat of a game. He believes his experience helps him communicate with current players. And, more important, it helps him find steps to make pro football safer.
"I have that insight from being on the field, from being in their shoes," Vincent says. "My message to these players is, 'We want to keep you on the field. We want to keep you safe.'
"Rules to protect the players are essential."
Vincent was part of the development of many current NFL rules while working for the union, which should be comforting to the players association. For several years, the NFLPA has sought more effective means of guidance on the rules from the league.
A union official says the NFLPA finds it important to gather as much information as possible on what is expected from the players on the field.
The meetings with players who have been suspended should not be perceived as a warning, Vincent says. He looks at them as an opportunity to explain policies he was a part of constructing, and will listen to suggestions for simplifying the rule book.
"I will work to be a bridge builder," Vincent says. "My responsibility is to preserve the game, develop its future, and to protect the players and the brand."
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