What is the NFL Commissioner's Exempt List?

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell
Walter Sharp
Modified 09 Apr 2021

The NFL Player Personnel Policy Manual describes the NFL Commissioner's Exempt List as a special player status available to clubs only in unusual circumstances. The list includes those players who have been declared by the Commissioner to be temporarily exempt from counting within the Active List limit.

Only the Commissioner has the authority to place a player on the Exempt List; clubs have no such authority, and no exemption, regardless of circumstances, is automatic. The Commissioner also has the authority to determine in advance whether a player's time on the Exempt List will be finite or will continue until the Commissioner deems the exemption should be lifted and the player returned to the Active List.

An NFL player that is on the exempt list cannot participate in any of the football activities with their team. Even though the player cannot participate in practice or attend games, they are allowed to be present at the facility for meetings, to work out and receive treatment. Essentially the player that's on the exempt list is on paid leave.

A number of players have been placed on the NFL's exempt list. Take a look at what players have been put on the Commissioner's Exempt List.

What NFL players have been placed on the Commissioner Exempt List?

Former NFL QB Michael Vick
Former NFL QB Michael Vick

Adam "Pacman" Jones and Chris Henry were both placed on the Commissioner's Exempt List on April 10, 2007. Jones was placed on the list due to battery, uttering death threats and felony coercion and stayed on the list for the entire 2007 season. Henry was placed on the list because of aggravated assault with a firearm, allowing female minors alcohol, driving while drunk, and assault. He was on the list for the first eight games of the 2007 season.

Terry "Tank" Johnson was placed on the list for possession of a concealed weapon, possession of unlawful assault rifles, and firearms in his home with children present. He stayed on the list for the first eight games of the 2007 season. Michael Vick may have the longest time on the list after his dog-fighting incident. Vick was on the list from August 24, 2007 to July 27, 2009.


Donte Stallworth, Ben Roethlisberger and Ndamukong Suh have all seen their names on the list as well. Stallworth was on the exempt list for the entire 2009 season due to a DUI manslaughter. Roethlisberger was on the exempt list for the first six games because of a sexual assault allegation. Suh was on the exempt list for pushing Evan Dietrich-Smith's head into the ground and stomping on his arm.

Published 09 Apr 2021, 09:48 IST
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