By Steve Keating
PHOENIX (Reuters) - The National Football League Players Association will do all it can to prevent the NFL's newly-imposed personal conduct policy from being implemented, the union's leaders said on Thursday.
NFLPA President Eric Winston and Executive Director DeMaurice Smith were in defiant form ahead of Sunday's Super Bowl, both saying they will resist any proposed changes to the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) signed in 2011.
The players union filed a grievance last week against the NFL over the new personal conduct policy that was unanimously approved by team owners last month after a string of domestic violence cases.
"The new personal conduct policy, I guess if you want to call it that, instituted by the league, in our eyes, my eyes and every players' eyes violates the CBA in several ways and we are going to be grieving this as far as we can," said Winston.
"Very simply put we have an agreement with the league, they have an agreement with us and we are going to hold them to that agreement."
High-profile cases of domestic abuse by players Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice and others triggered an avalanche of criticism against NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and spurred an overhaul of the league's personal conduct policy.
Because the policy was not deliberated under the terms of the labor agreement, the NFLPA requested the grievance be heard immediately.
The tougher policy includes a provision to place an individual on paid leave if charged with a violent crime or sexual assault.
"Where it spins out of control is where the league believes nonetheless they can impose or do something unilaterally," said Smith. "When a neutral arbitrator overrules the league in the Ray Rice decision are we thrilled we got a decision that vindicates the rights of our players? Yes.
"Do I think it's great for the work we have to do together? No.
"What we insist on is the process and they violated the process."
The union said it is also monitoring the NFL's probe into the New England Patriots, who were found to have used balls that were inflated significantly below the required levels during the AFC championship game.
Smith said the union will have a lawyer present with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady when he is questioned by NFL investigators, which is expected to happen sometime after Sunday's game versus the defending champion Seattle Seahawks.
(Editing by Frank Pingue)