How not to talk about Deshaun Watson’s six-game NFL suspension

Six games sure feels light to me! One can argue against the judge’s suspension, but doing so misses the point.
Deshaun Watson of the Cleveland Browns was recently given a laughably meagre six-game suspension by an NFL arbitrator despite receiving numerous sexual misconduct claims against him. This has prompted many people to compare his punishment to that of other offenders and find it almost comically insignificant.
Watson has six games? Since Vontaze Burfict was hit hard on the field, he lost twice as many games. In fact, DeAndre Hopkins missed exactly that many games due to PED traces found in his system. Josh Gordon and Darren Waller each missed the entirety of a season due to marijuana use. Famously, Tom Brady’s suspension for deflating footballs to make them easier to throw and catch was reduced by two games. How is that possible? The NFL is implying that those violations are less significant than alleged repeated sexual harassment, right?
However, the NFL is obviously not stating that. Always keep in mind that the NFL remains silent at all times.
The NFL once aimed to avoid ever suspending players without an actual conviction in a court of law. That’s why, in 2007, they didn’t penalise quarterback Michael Vick for his involvement in a dogfighting ring until he pled guilty. Social media, however, altered that. But the NFL later understood that neglecting to proactively discipline players would result in a severe public relations issue, particularly in the aftermath of the Ray Rice domestic abuse story from eight years ago. So the league began enforcing its own laws.
Here, there is a clear issue: The NFL is a sports league, not a criminal justice system. Therefore, its suspensions and penalties, if any exist at all, are not intended to be “fair,” prudent, or to set any kind of precedent. They are just intended to help the league get through whatever PR issue it may be facing at the time. Are people upset that Burfict hired a headhunter? Twelve games, please! Are some league owners upset that athletes are abusing drugs? For a year, outlaw them! Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL, is experiencing a lot of stress as a result of the “Deflategate” affair. Brady deserves four games! The penalties were effectively fiats by press release, intended to relieve everyone of their burden and allow the league to resume play. and naturally making money. It would be foolish to expect consistency from a system that is so unprepared.
This is also one of the primary reasons the league appointed a judge as an arbitrator in the first place: League officials believed that retired federal Judge Sue Robinson would remove them from the decision-making process. Robinson’s final decision in Watson’s case can be contested (that penalty sure feels light to me! ), but doing so completely misses the point. The NFL is making an effort to disassociate itself from these kind of sanctions. It is incapable of making moral decisions.
Robinson, however, wasn’t involved in these other earlier choices. If she had been, perhaps there would have been a pattern of punishment. Goodell served as the jury, the judge, and the executioner instead. If anything, this case is almost intended to be the beginning of a move toward a more “impartial” type of punishment, one that isn’t solely dependent on Goodell and his PR staff.
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It is important to remember that no ban may seem appropriate when it comes to offences as heinous and disgusting as those for which Watson has been accused. After reading the charges, you find yourself wanting him to disappear forever and not wanting to look at him at all. That, however, is unfeasible because, as we all know, he hasn’t been charged with a crime, has consistently denied any wrongdoing, and the most of the civil lawsuits have already been settled. Additionally, the NFLPA has publicly stated that it would contest any excessively long Watson suspension. (That it is supporting this one is therefore extremely telling.)
The NFL is attempting to create a benchmark. I know I do, but you might not agree with that standard. But this standard is different. The league is also attempting to follow public sentiment less frequently than in the past. On the surface, that seems like a wonderful thing. Public opinion is skewed and unstable. It is evident that the NFL has never been particularly effective at controlling the inappropriate behaviour of its stars. The evidence for it is those absurd punishments from the past. However, their poor performance does not make this choice any worse. This choice is already regrettable enough.

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