The Suspension Lottery


Before we begin, let me just say, the horse is dead so we can stop beating it. Winston is suspended for the first 3 games of the season due to allegations of sexual assault against a female Uber driver. It is what it is and we have to accept that Jameis will not appeal.

The nature and length of the suspension made me wonder. If he did it as has been claimed, 3 games is woefully inadequate in a league that will suspend a player 4 games for mixing up when buying cough syrup or smoking a drug that’s now legal in many states.

Players with a history of PEDs can expect to lose at least a season and maybe a career. Ray Rice lost his career over revelations of domestic abuse. Hard evidence showed a history of unforgivable violence towards his partner. Ezekiel Elliot after much appealing lost 6 games. After allegations of domestic abuse where the issue was played out in all aspects of the public domain. A main point of discontent being, despite the NFL investigation finding that his partner “was not credible” Goodell ultimately handed down the 6 game ban and this was upheld. On the other hand it was revealed that the NFL investigations into the accusation against the Buccaneers QB found the Uber driver “very credible”! So where is the consistency in this? Whilst I will gladly accept that PEDs, domestic abuse and sexual assault are very different things, there is still no transparency in the outcome of these “investigations.”

Winston has a history around this subject, whether you believe his innocence or guilt, this isn’t the first time that Jameis has been accused of sexual misconduct going back to his days at Florida State. Winston in his statement made reference to being “uncharacteristic”whilst in the car with the Uber driver, but stopped short of admission of any wrongdoing.

Like it or not the NFL is a business and the players are employees of that business. But like any employee, including you and me, we need consistency from our employers; right now Goodell is not offering that.

He acts as judge, jury and executioner and hands down disproportionate sentences to those who commit crimes and those accused without evidence. How are players to know what will happen if they are accused of a crime or misdeed? Most of us would like to think that an employer would not punish us if we were falsely accused of something or at least waiting to have a resolution to the matter. Sadly Goodell operates his own brand of frontier justice and the sooner that is put a stop to, the better for the league. If only so that some consistency is maintained for the players who are venturing into a world of “guilty without trial.”

Goodell needs to be made accountable and be able to publicly justify the length of a suspension. Are players handed an arbitrary suspension “just in case”? Where are the checks and balances to ensure the fairness of the process? Whilst this process continues shrouded in secrecy, there will always be room to suggest that bias is being applied. At this point transparency would be beneficial for everyone.