When Peter King and I were discussing on Saturday the potential topics for the halftime segment of the Pitt-Notre Dame game, we concluded that the investigation and eventual discipline (if any) of Vikings quarterback Brett Favre would extend into the offseason, and possibly fizzle out thereafter, especially if Favre makes good on his latest stated intention to retire.
After all, Texans linebacker Brian Cushing tested positive for hCG last September, he played the entire season despite clear evidence of what the NFL regards to be cheating, and he ultimately was suspended in May.
But we’ve continued to ponder the situation, and Peter and I now believe that this thing could — and arguably should — move a lot more quickly.
For starters, the NFL follows a different procedure when it comes to appeal rights under the Personal Conduct Policy than it does for the substance-abuse policy and the steroids policy. Under the latter two policies, no announcement comes from the league until the appeals process has been fully exhausted. Under the Personal Conduct Policy, the discipline is announced when imposed, with the appeal rights kicking in at that point.
So while it’s unlikely that any appeal from Favre would be resolved before the end of the season, the investigation and the announcement of the discipline could come before January 2011.
Then there’s the reality that the investigation shouldn’t be very complicated. With Jenn Sterger reportedly (per Peter King) cooperating, the NFL could have more than enough information to reach a conclusion that Favre violated the Personal Conduct Policy via his calls and text messages to Sterger — especially if Favre admits that he made the calls and sent the texts.
And this is more than a garden-variety he said/she said. There’s tangible evidence that could be tracked back to Favre’s cell phone or other technological devices.
Though it’s highly unlikely that a suspension would be imposed on Favre based only on the alleged calls and texts to Sterger, the investigation could uncover other evidence of similar behavior, and a pattern of misconduct is the kind of thing that gets a guy suspended. With new claims from a pair of massage therapists and the Jets reportedly referring their contact information to the NFL, that aspect of the case could escalate just as quickly as the Sterger claims. NFL Security also could begin to turn over rocks in Green Bay in an effort to see if this kind of stuff happened there.
Another factor to keep in mind is that, unlike the conduct of Ben Roethlisberger, Pacman Jones, and Mike Vick, Favre’s alleged actions potentially give rise to liability for the NFL and one or more of its member clubs. (More on that aspect of the situation is coming.) Thus, the league has even more reason in a case like this to take action.
So while the case and the appeal likely wouldn’t be finalized until Favre has finished his 20th and likely final football season, he could suffer the public indignity of a letter from Commissioner Roger Goodell summarizing Favre’s behavior (if the league concludes he did it), chastising him for it, and announcing a penalty that will be imposed, subject to an appeal that wouldn’t be resolved until the imposition of a suspension or fine has become moot.
What wouldn’t be moot is the impact of the situation on Favre’s legacy.