NFL owners have approved a revised personal conduct policy.

The new policy takes effect immediately. Among the key changes, according to ESPN

• The new policy embraces the use of independent investigations. To that end, the NFL will hire a special counsel for investigations and conduct that will oversee initial discipline.

• The policy will implement an element of leave with pay during investigations of people charged with violent crimes.

• The commissioner will maintain a role in the appeals process, but also may appoint a panel of independent experts to participate in deciding an appeal.

Goodell said the person hired to fill the special counsel role will be a "highly qualified individual with a criminal justice background.''

"The person will oversee our investigations and decide the discipline for violations of the policy.''

The NFL Players Association issued a statement in which it expressed their displeasure of not being able to collectively bargain changes to the policy, said ESPN

"Our union has not been offered the professional courtesy of seeing the NFL's new personal conduct policy before it hit the presses. Their unilateral decision and conduct today is the only thing that has been consistent over the past few months," the union said.

Arizona Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill was appointed to serve as chairman of a nine-owner committee that will oversee the new policy, ESPN announced. The other owners on the committee are Arthur Blank (Atlanta Falcons), Clark Hunt (Kansas City Chiefs), Dee Haslam (wife of Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam), Robert C. McNair (Houston Texans), Charlotte Jones Anderson (Dallas Cowboys) and George McCaskey (Chicago Bears).

Two former players with ownership stakes also will serve on the committee: Warrick Dunn (Falcons) and John Stallworth (Pittsburgh Steelers).

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