Why did the NFL do a deal with Jameis Winston?

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What was a hunch last week has become a reality. The NFL, despite a reputation for meting out discipline without compromise, reached a compromise with Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston, giving him a three-game suspension in exchange for an agreement not to appeal and to apologize generally to the victim for whatever it is that he did.

So why did the NFL do it?

With an internal legal system that has been collectively bargained over the years to give the NFL full and complete discretion to impose whatever penalty it wishes and to make it stick in court, the NFL opted instead to do a deal with Winston. At a minimum, it’s a stunning reversal for a Commissioner who has never been one to split the difference with players. At most, it’s a recognition of the reality that, in the #MeToo era, the labeling of a player as a sexual abuser with graphic details and harsh public rhetoric could do more than justify punishment. It also could spark a movement that gets the player shunned by his current team, along with every other NFL franchise.

If that’s the reason for league’s the willingness to agree to a three-game suspension when the NFL easily could have (arguably should have) slapped Winston with the baseline ban of six games and with a potential enhancement for his pre-NFL misconduct, the NFL has become surprisingly magnanimous. It could be that the NFL, as it desperately tries to bring the P.R. focus back to football, didn’t want the next two months to be consumed with news stories delving into the nuts and bolts of the case, with Winston’s camp working the media and eventually taking to court a case that, as Ezekiel Elliott did a year ago, will make the NFL seem to be incompetent at best, malicious at worst.

It’s possible that the NFL ultimately was motivated by both considerations, but not necessarily as a favor to Winston. How does it benefit the NFL to paint Winston with the kind of scarlet hashtag that makes a three-game suspension a de facto permanent banishment? He remains an engaging personality and a competent quarterback. A strategically engineered slap on the wrist, done in a way that minimized the P.R. consequences (indeed, Winston’s camp initially leaked that the suspension would arise from a failure to report the allegations only, and that item of #fakenews surely took some of the sting out of the eventual discipline) allowed the NFL to send a strong message without wrecking Winston’s career.

Look for more deals like this to be considered in the future, given that the court of public opinion now has far more power over a celebrity’s career than Roger Goodell ever will enjoy.

75 responses to “Why did the NFL do a deal with Jameis Winston?

  1. Every process Roger Goodell has ever administered begins and ends with public relations, either surveying public opinion or manipulating public perception (or both). Policy, procedure and/or facts just get in the way.

  2. “It also could spark a movement that gets the player shunned by his current team, along with every other NFL franchise.”

    Ya let’s not be upset with a guy that sexual assaulted a woman for possibly the 2nd time in his life. We wouldn’t want to “shun” the poor guy. That would be terrible

  3. This is bad.

    He needs to be kicked out of the league. Period.

    I am being serious. This will get to large protests in the streets by the masses if they don’t act quickly and cut this dude loose. If what the NFL says is true that the shield is more important than any player.. then he is gone.

    And the most important thing of all is that it is THE RIGHT THING TO DO!

    He needs to go and very soon!

  4. Without a doubt,… they settled this because the NFL doesn’t need any more dirty laundry and bad press. They have all they can handle already,….. and now dropping tv ratings and the loss of revenue from sponsorship deals.

  5. On point, Mike.

    Look at what’s happened to Kevin Spacey, Louis Ck, etc. They’ve been canceled. Disappeared. In the age of #MeToo, a story like this could absolutely destroy a career.

    I’m not defending what he did; but I don’t think a drunken grope justifies annihilation of a career. Three games sounds about right.

  6. I think its because there was no real proof of guilt or innocence, just an accusation on one side and denial on the other. Doing nothing or doing too much could blow up into a (as pointed out in the article) protracted pr mess. So they reached a compromise with the hope that will make it settle down and go away quickly.

  7. Look for more deals like this to be considered in the future, given that the court of public opinion now has far more power over a celebrity’s career than Roger Goodell ever will enjoy.
    ___________________________________________

    I do not believe that. If it were true, Tom Brady would not have gotten 4 games. He’s the most “celebrated” NFL star. The fact that Brady got 4 games for allegedly doctoring footballs and Winston got 3 for grabbing a woman’s crotch speaks volume about the subjectivity of the “code of punishment”. It’s totally arbitrary.
    Winston could/should have been prosecuted for sexual battery and Brady let a little air out. Where is the “sentence fits the crime” justice in that?
    I think there is a bigger elephant in the room.

  8. I don’t get this at all !
    Goodell is willing to strike a “deal” with a player with a known history of predatory
    behavior on women, but tried to destroy a HOF QB’s career over alleged deflated footballs &
    a destroyed cell phone!!
    I think Jerry Springer would make a better Commissioner than Goodell at this point!

  9. I think it would be best served for the NFL to adopt a strategy that says they’ll wait and let things like this play out in court before handing out a suspension. The only exception should be if they found indisputable evidence that showed misconduct.

  10. My understanding is he was never charged, and not because of the lack of cooperating witnesses. In other words, he did not payoff the women to not deal with the police.

  11. Winston = Proven QUILTY 3 games.
    ZEKE = PROVEN INNOCENT = 6 games.
    Two Giants players = NO Suspension.

    OOOOKAY. But all is good in the NFL. Nothing Corrupt to see here ….

  12. So how do we “justify” the Patriot’s lost draft pick and Brady’s suspension and Elliot’s suspension when NO DEAL WAS OFFERED TO REDUCE THE PENALTY in previous cases???

  13. Is it possible for a third party to exist within whatever agreements have been made?

  14. Jerry should re-open that lawsuit against the league. 3 games with evidence?! C’mon man. Giants kicker gets 2 and Zeke gets 6. Wow

  15. And this is why I’m walking away from football, at least the NHL and MLB tend to not have issues like this, including murder and spousal abuse. These guys are animals and brain injuries have nothing to do with it, it’s purely ego driven!

  16. So in order to protect his career, they made a deal to reduce the suspension and avoid shining light on the details of the incident.

    This begs the question: why the hell even suspend him for something he was only accused of doing over 2 years ago? Everyone forgot about this case and this suspension made it front page news. The obvious answer is that the NFL is still overcompensating for messing up the Ray Rice situation so badly. Star players will continue to pay for the that mistake.

  17. “Don’t you fret none Jameis, we’ll just keep this between us guys”–NFL 2018

  18. Because Roger Goodell has it out for the Saints first and foremost. By giving a break to a division rival, he is continuing to punish the Saints for appealing Bountygate and bringing in Paul Tagliabue to reverse some of those suspensions. The Falcons got a slap on the wrist for piping in crowd noise to a definite competitive advantage. The Panthers lost only cash and no picks for their owners harrassment scandal, and when you consider the record sale price they were rewarded. Matt Ryan could shoot someone on 5th avenue and Goodell would not do anything about it.

  19. Because they wanted to send a message that deflating footballs is a lot more important to to punish han players sexually assaulting women.

  20. 3 games? That’s okay, women are accustomed to justice being blind and bias, e.g. Brock Turner, Jameis Winston victim #1, Juanita Broaddrick, etc. My question is this, if society can take down Cosby, why can’t it take down Winston? Different circumstances, I understand that, but on principal let’s at least try. If you’re a Bucs fan, and you defend this QB, I feel sorry for you. Because if he were in a different uniform you’d be part of the collective rage. Hail the NFL! Protector of all that is wrong in our world!

  21. No deal and 6 games suspension for Elliott with zero evidence, and his accuser had a penchant for lying and inconsistency.

    Winston gets 3 games in an agreement with the league to not appeal for a verified groping of an uber driver.

    The NFL’s now stands for “Negotiating For Losers”.

    Well done, Goodell. You have found a way to ineptly handle yet another incident. Overcorrecting and undercorrecting leads to accidents, and you have proven to be very adept at both extremes with your NFL “justice”.

    I am sure what comes next out of Goodell’s office will only further perpetuate the downfall of this league. Ol’ Jerrah was the only owner with enough guts to call out Godell, and he got fined millions for it. Seems fair, right?

  22. The NFL & it’s commish has always been, and will always be, more about appearances & convenience than the substance.

  23. Brady got four games for contrived nonsense. The inconsistency is brutal.

  24. I’m sitting here thinking how this looks:

    a) You take air out of a football = 4 game suspension

    b) You sexually assault a female = 3 games

    In what universe does that make sense? It shouldn’t be an issue of P.R. regardless of what happens to the player’s career or the NFL.

  25. When you think the Law will not decide things the way you want it to.
    Just create your own rule of Law.

    If you are the NFL that is.

  26. Attempt to cover-up
    To save face
    To try & show a pattern of consistency
    BUT ALL TOO LATE in my opinion

  27. The Bucs keeping Winston violates the Integrity of the Shield. He is a serial criminal and the Bucs don’t care. God, I am glad he is not my team’s qb.

  28. With the NFL, it almost always comes down to money.

    The cost of the prolonged court battles I think took it’s toll.

    If it’s not that, or if it is a combination of things, it’s that and the “kangaroo court/keystone cops” drum that ProFootballTalk and others have been banging the NFL on.

    They just look foolish when they suspend a guy and then he’s out there on week 1.

    And don’t discount the fantasy football players. People that drafted Zeke last year (vs people that believed the suspension would stick and passed on him) reaped a lot of benefits and a few fantasy titles from that farce. Folks that didn’t were ticked and voiced their displeasure to the league, I’m sure.

  29. pelatin says:
    June 28, 2018 at 9:59 pm
    I think its because there was no real proof of guilt or innocence, just an accusation on one side and denial on the other.

    In other words, the exact details of Deflate(frame)gate. That’s right folks, now you realize you bought a lie.

  30. One of those ‘best for both parties’ kind of deal that minimizes exposure for those two entities. However, the third party that should have been considered from a backlash point of view is the Buccaneers. Now the team is going to get all of the heat and their only recourse is to refer back to the NFL’s deal, to which Goodell and his crew will throw up their hands and say it was handled in accordance to the personal conduct policy. However, we all know who is more accessible to direct frustration; it is easier to stage a large scale protest(s) at a training camp in Florida than on a sidewalk in New York City. Way to protect the members of your ‘league’, Rog. It’s just another Re-run. I wish Duane Parcells was running that boat. So what’s happening?

  31. Iv’e stopped caring what they do and pretty soon I’ll Stop caring about the on field product as well.

  32. The NFL has an insular fanbase. Maybe they lose a couple of sponsors, but most of their sponsorship deals are years long. If Budweiser walks away, the NFL keeps their money and has a year or two or whatever to replace them. TV deals, the bulk of their vast income, are similarly long-term.

    Spacey, Cosby, Weintstein etc get blown up because they are just small pieces of small properties within a massive patchwork of deals and relationships, cutting across media entities and platforms that comprise almost our whole population’s media diet. Their direct employers recognize that it would cost far more to hold on to them and navigate the Byzantine political/corporate landscape of fandom and outrage, than it would be to simply fire the alleged offender and eat the relatively small investment in that one property.

    The reason why the NFL acts before our legal system has its say (a wholly shortsighted and loathsome policy, in my opinion), is because they can squash the constant stream of negative stories that would happen between alleged offense and adjudication in our US legal system. That seems patently obvious. In this situation, it seems doubtful there would even be a civil suit, much less criminal procedings, so I think it is just a matter of appeasement based on Winston’s prior transgressions, and the optics of the monolithic NFL vs the People’s Millenial Rideshare and Safespace, Uber.

  33. “a) You take air out of a football = 4 game suspension

    b) You sexually assault a female = 3 games

    In what universe does that make sense?”

    Only in the one where the league is run by former Jets execs who hate the Pats, Belichick and Brady for humiliating the Jets for so many years.

  34. It’s PR-hits (as seen in NY) versus league income, parity and competitive games (as NY sees it). Hence Zeke gets 6, Winston 3, Ray Rice 2, and Josh Brown 1 for assaults, and Eli zero for fraud. And don’t ask about the victims in these cases, that’s the least of Park Ave’s concerns.

  35. softhelmet says:
    June 29, 2018 at 2:06 am
    I’m sitting here thinking how this looks:

    a) You take air out of a football = 4 game suspension

    b) You sexually assault a female = 3 games

    In what universe does that make sense? It shouldn’t be an issue of P.R. regardless of what happens to the player’s career or the NFL.

    ———-

    c) smoke some weed = the entire season

  36. softhelmet says:
    June 29, 2018 at 2:06 am
    I’m sitting here thinking how this looks:

    a) You take air out of a football = 4 game suspension

    b) You sexually assault a female = 3 games

    In what universe does that make sense? It shouldn’t be an issue of P.R. regardless of what happens to the player’s career or the NFL.

    20 4 Rate This

    ———————

    That would be great if #1 was actually true, which we know it isn’t.

    So, 4 games for being a HOF QB and it being too obvious to frame BB again.

    Glad I could clear that up.

  37. So Martavis Bryant and Josh Gordon get suspended each for a year or more but a sexual predator gets off the hook again. lol

  38. billsfan says:
    June 28, 2018 at 10:01 pm
    Look for more deals like this to be considered in the future, given that the court of public opinion now has far more power over a celebrity’s career than Roger Goodell ever will enjoy.
    ___________________________________________

    I do not believe that. If it were true, Tom Brady would not have gotten 4 games. He’s the most “celebrated” NFL star. The fact that Brady got 4 games for allegedly doctoring footballs and Winston got 3 for grabbing a woman’s crotch speaks volume about the subjectivity of the “code of punishment”. It’s totally arbitrary.
    Winston could/should have been prosecuted for sexual battery and Brady let a little air out. Where is the “sentence fits the crime” justice in that?
    I think there is a bigger elephant in the room.

    ———————
    Actually the example given here shows that the NFL does recognize the court of public opinion becausebthey worked to manipulate it. All of the ‘leaks’ of false information right from the start were to pave the way to an outcome that had already been decided. The original deflation numbers reporting more balls being affected (the 11 out of 12 claim) and also exagerating the amount if drop (saying they were all doen about 2lbs), the stopping of the testing of Colts balls before it could produce info not desired to be produced, the creation of the ‘deflator’ conversation that actually never took place, Pash’s editing of the Wells report to change its message, Goodell’s false statements about Brady destroying his phone, and lastly the sealing of the arbitration hearing transcripts at the end of it all with the idea that would keep all the lies hidden. (The judge unsealing it later was not in Goodells plans) without all those ‘manipulations of the truth’ they would had nothing other than ‘both teams had balls that were showing a small drop of pressure that day’ and that a follow up investigation had not uncovered anything (they did state that once asked under oath, its in the court transcripts) The NFL even doubled down when the Wells report showed that the initial NFL statements to be false the NFL still got their lawyers involved in refusing to retract them. They needed the lie to gang out there fir theor public perception games. And it worked because once a lue gets put out there its imposdible to erase it, indeed most of the lies I speak of above still get parroted to this day, we nay even see some of them repeated as challenges to what I just wrote now.

    Also in the Saints case the initial info the NFL put out was falsehoods and exaggerations of what had gone on really and it too paved the way for the NFL to sell a given outcome to the public.

    There are more cases (Zeke Elliot, the Chief’s tampering charge, etc…) where the NFL had ‘leaks’ happen that paved the way for sanctions that were out of balance.

    So the NFL very much revognizes and understands the court of public opinion. Its obvioys they do by how they even weaponize it to their advantage. They would not play in it so hard if they did not think they could do the things they want without winning in that court too.

  39. It’s no more complicated than the Winston is still considered a special talent and potential future star of the league at it’s most important position. If he was at the tail end of the 53 man roster, the punishment would have been more severe.

  40. The obvious answer is that it still came down to a he said / she said, where the league and anyone with a brain believed her, but it was better to cut the deal to make him not fight the truth with more lies.

    Come clean-ish, apologize, and take the punishment and move on.

    Actually, a fairly rational solution.

  41. Ask yourself this: would Zeke and Jameis gladly pay a $2.5million fine like Jerry Richardson to make it go away?

    Welcome to capitalism…that’s why! You don’t think the Glazers had a hand in this agreement?

    They want to save a #1 pick. Local fans don’t matter all that much, it’s the TV dollars that put food on the table & truckloads in their accounts. Florio, would love your take on this billionaire vs millionaire treatment!

  42. Here is the thing. The NFL should side with the victim and their goals when a player is proven or admitted guilt. If the victim wants monetary compensation and the league wants their best (and sometimes most rapey) players on the field, you need to KEEP THEM ON THE FIELD. If the victim wants the player exhiled from the NFL that is a whole different agenda. I know it hard to talk about it in this context but that is reality. Some victims want a payout and some want fire and brimstone vengeance. Both should be on the table.

  43. The NFL never should have ventured into law enforcement. Football is just a job. It might be high profile but have a private entity dishing out “punishments” to appease an “outraged” mob isn’t going to ever work.

  44. landolakesme says:
    June 28, 2018 at 11:11 pm

    And Tom Brady got 4 games for what?
    —————-
    For possibly being generally aware that someone may or may not have taken two chipmunk farts of air out of footballs.

    LAWL

  45. rainsarge says:
    It might be high profile but have a private entity dishing out “punishments” to appease an “outraged” mob isn’t going to ever work.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
    In the court of Public Opinion, the NFL was getting BASHED from all sides regarding the domestic violence reports and arrests of NFL players. The PUBLIC was screaming wild. The Media turned it into a headhunting circus. They had to do something to save face. In your words, "The Outraged Mob" became the impetus for the new rules against Domestic Violence.

  46. Winston is a mediocre to bad QB. If he committed this heinous violation, give him at least 6 games or more like they did Zeke. To give anything less is complete farce and promotes a false equivalency to how they made Zeke look. Btw, I’m and Eagles fan that hates the Cowboys.

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