The NFL’s public statement on Jameis Winston‘s three-game suspension suggested that Winston could be one violation of the personal-conduct policy away from a lifetime ban.
“In addition, a future violation of the Personal Conduct Policy will result in more substantial discipline, including a potential ban from the NFL,” the league’s statement said.
Of course, the NFL also said after the Ray Rice fiasco that a six-game suspension would be the baseline for domestic violence or sexual assault, and yet Winston got only three games even though the NFL’s own findings concluded that Winston touched an Uber driver “in an inappropriate and sexual manner without her consent.” So the NFL doesn’t always follow through on warnings about the severity of its suspensions. And the league has used that language in other letters to players suspended under the personal conduct policy, including Ezekiel Elliott last year.
Still, the words “potential ban” show just how serious a situation this is for Winston and the Buccaneers. A former first overall pick in the draft, a player who might be one of the league’s brightest stars for the next 15 years, also might be just one bad act away from never playing in the NFL again.