The NFL has developed a habit, wisely from a P.R. standpoint, of dropping bad news on Friday afternoons. The move necessarily takes the steam out of a story, since by Monday the weekday radio and TV shows will be focused on the actual sporting events of the intervening weekend.
And while the Internet remains available for content and comment at any day and time, folks tend to spend more time reading and reacting during the normal workweek, when they’re on the company’s time. By the time they’re on their own time, they’re making time for other stuff.
Coupled with the NFL’s habit of resolving disciplinary matters that could result in suspension before the start of the regular season, the next three Fridays likely will feature final decisions regarding 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith, Browns receiver Josh Gordon, and Colts owner Jim Irsay.
Smith faces a multi-game suspension under the personal-conduct policy and/or the substance abuse policy. Because the latter would entail a more complex and time-consuming appeals process, look for the league to impose discipline under the personal-conduct policy. Smith, who met with Commissioner Roger Goodell two weeks ago in Baltimore, awaits an initial decision. If/when a suspension is imposed under the conduct policy, Smith will have three days to file an appeal, which almost certainly would be resolved before the 49ers face the Cowboys in Week One.
For Gordon, the two-day appeal hearing under the substance-abuse policy ended 17 days ago. Barring a negotiated resolution, hearing officer Harold Henderson will impose a ruling, presumably sooner than later. Under the strict terms of the substance-abuse policy, the options are no suspension at all and a full year.
As to Irsay, the league presumably has been waiting for a potential plea deal on the pending charges of operating a vehicle while under the influence of prescription medication. League insiders reportedly expect Irsay to receive a six-to-eight-game suspension. The biggest unanswered question regarding Irsay remains whether he will be subjected to the same player standard of 10-times-per-month urinalysis and, eventually, a potential one-year banishment from the sport.
While plenty of unknowns linger as to all three men, past precedent suggests that each will have a decision rendered before Sunday, September 7 — and that the news will likely emerge on one of the next three Fridays.