Eric Winston stresses 'due process'

— -- NFL Players Association president Eric Winston said Tuesday that the union isn't against disciplining players who commit crimes, but he warned that the public must avoid rushing to judgment once an arrest is made.

Winston, in an appearance on ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike" program, was asked to address the NFL's off-the-field troubles, which include the domestic violence cases against Ray Rice, Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy and San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Ray McDonald, as well as charges of alleged child abuse against Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.

"I'd let the court system and process run its course. I don't want to get into a world where we're snapping to judgment, and that's where we're all the sudden saying, 'Oh well, since he was arrested before, he's automatically guilty of it.' I don't think that's the right world to live in," Winston said.

"Now, who knows? There might be some crazy, outlying standard. But at the same time, I think for 99 percent of things that go on, we need to let the due process run its course."

Winston emphasized that the union isn't against disciplining players who deserve to be penalized.

"The players aren't against discipline," he said. "And the union is not against discipline. All we're for is a fair process. If a player feels like his rights have been violated under the CBA, then he's got a fair appeal process.

"I don't want anybody to think that we're trying to cover guys and make sure that they don't get disciplined in any way. We are not against discipline. We are not against it -- that if you mess up, you shouldn't have to pay the price."

Winston also addressed the league's new drug policy, which is expected to be finalized soon. He said the big takeaway for the players is that appeals now will be heard by a neutral third party instead of the NFL.