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Troy Vincent’s path went from the field to the top levels of NFL

A star on the field for 15 NFL seasons, Troy Vincent has become a high-ranking official in the NFL’s executive offices, tasked with handing out the penalties to Tom Brady and the Patriots.File/Susan Walsh/Associated Press

Troy Vincent’s 15-year playing career was primarily spent in Philadelphia, but began in Miami, where he was a first-round pick. It ended in 2006, after stints in Buffalo and Washington. The cornerback was named to five Pro Bowl and three All-Pro teams.

But now the 44-year-old Vincent is in a different role, though one that has kept his name in the media.

As the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, he drew the task of handing out the Patriots’ punishment for the findings in the Wells Report.

It is Vincent’s signature on the letters sent to both the Patriots organization and to quarterback Tom Brady outlining one of the harshest punishments the league has meted out: the loss of a first-round pick in 2016, a fourth-round pick in 2017, a $1 million fine for the team, and a four-game suspension for one of the game’s marquee players.


“The report establishes that there is substantial and credible evidence to conclude you were at least generally aware of the actions of the Patriots’ employees involved in the deflation of footballs and that it was unlikely that their actions were done without your knowledge,” Vincent wrote to Brady. “Moreover, the report documents your failure to cooperate fully and candidly with the investigation, including by refusing to produce any relevant electronic evidence [emails, texts, etc.] despite being offered extraordinary safeguards by the investigators to protect unrelated personal information . . .

“Your actions set forth in the report clearly constitute conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the game of football . . . Each player, no matter how accomplished and otherwise respected, has an obligation to comply with the rules and must be held accountable for his actions.”

Vincent rose to his current position a little more than a year ago, when Ray Anderson left the post after eight years.


Vincent was a team captain in 13 seasons and was the 2002 winner of the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, one of the league’s highest honors.

Vincent retired as a player in 2006, during the middle of his four-year tenure as president of the NFL Players’ Association.

Vincent had long been involved in the union. In 2009, he was a finalist to become the executive director, losing the vote to DeMaurice Smith.

Around that time, the NFLPA announced it was investigating whether Vincent had disclosed confidential personal and financial information about agents to a business partner with whom he owned a financial service firm.

Nothing came of those charges, though Terri Upshaw — wife of executive director Gene Upshaw — told Sports Illustrated that Gene was planning on confronting Vincent with evidence of his wrongdoing before he died in August 2008.

A lawsuit filed by an NFLPA employee shortly after Upshaw’s death alleged that Vincent was trying to undermine Upshaw through secret meetings and correspondence with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

Unable to overcome the whispers and allegations, Vincent lost out to Smith.

Somewhat surprisingly, just months later, after running for the post that would have put him toe-to-toe with Goodell, Vincent was hired by the NFL as senior vice president of active player development, which was renamed the NFL Player Engagement Organization.

In that role, he oversaw programs such as the annual Rookie Symposium, and helping to address player concerns. While he was with the Bills, Vincent is credited with helping to forge the league’s partnership with the Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania, giving players the opportunity to learn skills they can take into post-playing life.


After Anderson retired, Vincent was elevated to one of the highest jobs within the NFL offices, one that puts him in line to potentially replace Goodell.

Vincent has been in place during one of the most tumultuous years in league history, one that includes the Ray Rice case (Vincent acknowledged he didn’t read the Mueller report, which looked into the league’s missteps), the Greg Hardy and Adrian Peterson situations, and now Deflategate.

Vincent is fairly soft-spoken, and talks often of his family — he and his wife, Tommi, have five children.

He has expressed concern with how the league had handled the Rice situation, giving him a relatively pithy two-game suspension for a domestic violence incident, a suspension that drew tremendous public criticism and was increased only after a second video surfaced.

Vincent, Goodell, and the league have taken steps to make sure domestic-violence issues are treated more seriously than they have in the past, though this current issue — Deflategate and the Wells Report — are a wholly different matter.

Shalise Manza Young can be reached at syoung@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @shalisemyoung.