In an effort to include players' opinions and perspectives regarding on- and off-the-field issues, the NFL has formed a Player Advisory Forum that will be spearheaded by Tony Dungy, the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts coach.
Currently a broadcaster for NBC Sports, Dungy will serve as the Special Advisor to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Denver Broncos safety Brian Dawkins, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis and Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner already have been enlisted to help arrange and execute meetings at locations league-wide for the Advisory Forum.
"Players are an invaluable resource to us in providing direction and insight into a wide range of programs and policies," Goodell said in a statement. "Tony's experience and expertise in working with players make him an ideal leader of the Player Advisory Forum and we appreciate his willingness to take on this important role."
|David J. Phillip / Associated Press|
|Tony Dungy (left), who advised Michael Vick in the QB's return to the NFL earlier this year, accepted Commissioner Roger Goodell's invitation to lead the newly formed Player Advisory Forum.|
The Player Advisor Forum grew from the Player Advisory Council that Goodell implemented in 2006 along with the NFL Players Association. The main difference is that Dungy will arrange the meetings, identify the players to be invited and develop the topics to be discussed. Some of the subjects that Goodell and Dungy would like to be broached already have been identified: player health and safety, personal conduct, game rules and procedures, career transition and player development.
Dungy will expand or streamline those topics per the respective meetings, in part by leaning on players from across the league. Goodell will attend all the meetings. The NFLPA has been extended an invitation to attend all sessions as well.
"Input from the players to the commissioner's office and vice versa is so important in helping our league and our players be the best they can be, on and off the field," Dungy said in a statement. "The Commissioner asked me if I would lead this initiative, and to me, it is exciting to be in position to help our players."
Added Lewis: "This is extremely important, and Tony's involvement is a big factor for me because he stands for everything that is right in the NFL. This is an area where we need unity because it's about players and the league helping each other. I truly believe we can accomplish things that will carry on way behind us."
Warner, the 2008 Walter Payton Award winner as the NFL Man of the Year, said: "For the NFL to remain as successful as it is today, this type of open communication between the players and commissionerâs office is crucial. To have someone as respected and accomplished as coach Dungy leading the effort is tremendous. His integrity and credibility are unmatched, and everyone involved will be better off because of his involvement."
The meetings will resemble those Goodell staged last year with retired players, seeking their advice and listening to their concerns as to how the NFL could help them and prepare current players for life after football.