Roger Goodell’s strong comments about Deshaun Watson could be used against NFL in federal court – NBC Sports

NFL SPECIAL LEAGUE MEETING

NFL SPECIAL LEAGUE MEETING

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As the Miranda warnings explain, Anything you say can and will be used against you. That concept applies in many other legal contexts and settings.

When it comes to the blunt, honest comments made by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday regarding Browns quarterback Deshaun Watsona question arose as to whether Goodell’s remarks would be echoed by the NFL Players Association in any potential legal battle regarding the inevitable suspension imposed on Watson by appeals officer Peter Harvey.

Why wouldn’t they be? Goodell’s comments could be characterized as an effort to send a strong and clear message to Harvey, who certainly wants to maintain his relationship with the league and who is eager to give Goodell what Harvey thinks Goodell wants. Goodell is trying to tip the scales of in-house justice his way by making sure the judge knows what he who butters the judge’s bread would like to see happen.

That said, Harvey already knows what Goodell wants. The league consistently sought a suspension of at least one calendar year in duration. As the preseason opener approaches and the prospect of Watson playing in an NFL game for the first time since the end of the 2020 regular season approaches, Harvey no doubt realizes that Goodell wants Watson to be blocked from that.

Goodell could have handled the appeal himself, making sure he got what he wanted. But since he knows Harvey will give Goodell what he wants anyway, why not build in a layer of insulation if he knows he’ll get the same result he would have secured if he’d done it himself?

“There were multiple violations here, and they were egregious and it was predatory behavior,” Goodell told reporters regarding Watson. Awful. predatory How will Watson not be suspended for a full year?

Would it have made more sense for Goodell to say something like, “We will delay comment until the legal process is complete”? Certainly. But legal niceties must be balanced against PR realities. Beyond those Browns fans who struggle (and understandably so) to separate their vested interests from the question of whether Watson had a full and proper count, most NFL fans want to see Watson suspended for a full year. Last week, a PFT Twitter poll that asked for the preferred length of suspension with the options being six games, eight games, 12 games, and a full season, almost 71 percent answered by choosing the longest duration.

The NFL is sensitive to this reality. Although some have accused the NFL of being overly concerned with optics, the entire Personal Conduct Policy is based on optics. The vast majority of American employers do not (and should not) care about off-duty behavior. The NFL, with the agreement of the NFL Players Association, does. It has to. Fans, who are expected to devote money and time to the product, expect action to be taken against players who misbehave, even when the misconduct has nothing to do with the NFL. (Of course, in this case, Watson used his status as an NFL quarterback to secure massages that he tried to turn into sexual encounters. That won’t help him on appeal.)

There is an obvious disconnect between law and optics. That’s why four violations, within the four corners of the Personal Conduct Policy, become 24 (and up to 66) in the mind of anyone and everyone who’s been paying attention. That’s another reason why the NFL will throw the book at Watson. The league knows it’s 24 (and up to 66). Harvey knows it too. The federal judge presiding over the case, if/when there is one, will also know it.

Maybe that’s why Goodell said what he said. Why doesn’t he care if his words are repeated in court as part of an argument that Harvey was partial or biased or whatever. Four is really 24, and there are even 66. Everyone knows it. And it will be hard for anyone to put it aside.

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