NFL suspends Cleveland's Deshaun Watson for six games. Nice try.

NFL suspends Cleveland Brown quarterback Deshaun Watson over massage accusations. Don't compare him to Vontaze Burfict, Josh Gordon or Tom Brady just yet.

It has become popular, in the wake of an NFL arbitrator giving Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson a ridiculously short six-game suspension despite dozens of sexual misconduct accusations against him, to compare his suspension to other past offenses and find it almost hilariously meager.

Six games for Watson? Vontaze Burfict lost twice as many games for violent on-field hits. DeAndre Hopkins missed exactly that many games for trace amounts of PEDs discovered in his system. Josh Gordon and Darren Waller missed a whole season each for smoking weed. Tom Brady, rather famously, was suspended two fewer games for deflating footballs to make them easier to throw and catch. How can that be? Is the NFL saying that those offenses are less serious than alleged serial sexual harassment? 

The NFL isn’t saying that. The thing to remember is that the NFL is never saying anything.

But, of course, the NFL isn’t saying that. The thing to remember is that the NFL is never saying anything. 

There was a time when the NFL tried to avoid ever suspending players without an actual conviction in a court of law: It’s why they didn’t suspend quarterback Michael Vick for his dogfighting ring back in 2007 — until he actually pled guilty. But social media changed that. But then the NFL realized, particularly in the wake of the Ray Rice domestic violence scandal of eight years ago, that failing to proactively punish players would create a serious public relations problem. So the league started imposing its own justice.

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Updated: 2 weeks ago
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